| Chief's Tip of the Month

You May Be Asking Yourself...

by Dean Guccione - January 4, 2021

As we enter a new year, you may be asking yourself, when will I get hired? What strategies do successful firefighter candidates employ to earn their badge?

While I was sending out the email this past week congratulating my Firefighter Oral Interview Academy students, who just made the transition from firefighter candidate to probationary firefighter, I was just thinking, “what are the top 3 traits and actions they all used to help them get hired?”

These character traits and actions should always be in the forefront of your mind, if you want to be one of those who goes from candidate to firefighter.

What they all have in common is they were committed to becoming a full-time firefighter; they were all well prepared for the testing process including possessing the necessary certifications and education requirements; and they never gave up on their dream, even when they kept getting rejection emails saying thanks but no thanks. These things are what kept them going, even after several years of testing and receiving multiple rejection emails.

Commit Yourself to Your Dream

If you are serious about becoming a firefighter for a municipal fire service agency, you must make that commitment. You must tell yourself, I’m going to do everything it takes to get hired.

That means staying committed no matter what roadblocks are put in your path. That means being focused on the prize at the end. Your badge. That means seeing yourself walking through the doors of the training facility where you’re starting your first day in the fire academy. That means seeing yourself walking into that fire station on your very first day on the floor.

You must make the decision, in your mind, to being committed and staying on the path to reach your goal. Once you’ve gotten off the fence and made the decision, then you can take those preparatory steps that will move you closer to your dream.

Preparation is Key

Part of your commitment to becoming a firefighter is preparing yourself for the job as well as for the testing and hiring process. Taking fire science/technology classes, working towards your degree and getting your EMT and/or Paramedic license will all help you prepare for the job.

Working as an EMT or volunteer firefighter or paid-call firefighter helps to prepare you for the job as well. Interview panels want to see well rounded candidates who not only have education, but at least some experience as well. They want to see that you understand the environment you’re about to enter, and there’s no better job preparation than working in a fire station with career or volunteer firefighters. So, look for those positions that help you do that (volunteer firefighter, reserve firefighter, EMT, ambulance operator).

Then, there’s your life experience, hard and soft skills you’ve acquired, character traits, and previous job experiences that have also prepared you for the job. But that’s only the half of it, because interview panel members want to hear you discuss all of these areas in an organized, well-thought-out, and articulated manner.

Speaking of the interview panel, there is also significant preparation needed for hiring process as a whole. You must be committed to preparing for your written exam, oral interview, Chief’s interview, as well as the background, psychological exam and polygraph if required.

The better prepared you are for all phases of the hiring process, the better your chances you will not only succeed, but you will excel.

Do not Give Up. Tell Yourself You Can Do This!

Probably the number one trait of all these candidates who are now firefighters, is that they never gave up on their dream. Especially, when things were not looking so good. They stuck it out. They figured out where they could improve on the next test; on the next interview. They persevered. They succeeded. They earned their badge.

Not giving up is the key to this whole crazy thing. I can remember a dozen times when I said “forget it, I’m done.” But, something inside me said, “This is meant to be. This is what you’re meant to do. Not only for your career, but for your life. Don’t turn back now.” And I didn’t. I kept going, and being persistent and not giving up in the face of adversity was the best decision I ever made.

Final Thought

Having perseverance is a trait that you are going to use a lot over the course of your career. It is what will keep you going when you’re trying to rescue someone or save someone’s life. It is what will keep you going if one of your fellow firefighters needs rescuing. It is what will help you solve difficult problems, not only in your job, but in your personal life as well.

Couple perseverance with your commitment to becoming a firefighter, and committing to the preparation it takes to make this all happen, and it will only be a matter of time before you see yourself walking onto the grounds of the fire academy and stepping foot, for the first time, into that fire station on your very first assignment. It is the greatest feeling in the world and that is what I want for you!

Be safe out there,




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