This news item was posted this morning on Drudge as a sign of the times event. The truth is there is always big interest whenever a city hires firefighters.
When I was 21 years old I stood in line for hours with hundreds of others for a shot at working for the San Jose Fire Dept. The department had 8 positions open, what was I thinking?
In line I met an attorney who wanted a career change. There was a CHP officer in line too. He was telling us he wanted the firefighter hours. I got through the written exam and came back for the physical test. Since I was a college athlete I was strong so I could drag the dummy and pull hose packs OK.
When it came to the oral interview I was over matched, I had no experience to fall back on, no practical firefighting knowledge. All I offered was a strong work ethic and moral code. I made the list, 200 something but it was pretty clear I would not be a finalist for one of the 8 positions.
This is the reality for most of the guys in Miami this week. It’s tough to break in to this line of work.
My advice for someone looking for a city job is to learn as much about the department as possible. Have some fire science classes or better a degree under your belt. Study the department manuals cover to cover. If you can’t find them in the library then ask someone in headquarters if you can borrow them or at least read them on site.
Know the history of the department, the larger fires, the names of the fallen and the circumstances that led to their deaths. If the department has a volunteer force, join it.
Persistence is the key. Overlook the fact nepotism is still alive and a fair share of jobs go to kin. Remember many of those hires are guys with a lifetime invested in learning the job.
I wish the men and women lined up in Miami all the best. Firefighting is an honorable and rewarding career.