Firefighter Candidate Testing Center
National Fire Heritage Center Founding President, Chief Ronny J. Coleman
“The ultimate role of a firefighter is to leave a mark on the system, not just a memory.” - Chief Ronny J. Coleman
On Monday, October 8th, 2018, I had the privilege of walking the aisles of the National Fire Heritage Center archives with Archivist Frank Schmersal and, I captured a glimpse of the rich history contained in this American fire service archive. From aisle to aisle, I listened to the oral history through the various stories from Archivist Schmersal. The National Fire Heritage Center archives contain more than 15,000 items of media, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, photographs and what I consider, treasures of the American fire service.
(Photo Credits: Mark Tabay, Fresno City College, Public Information Officer).
As Fire Science Instructors and Fire Technology Directors, we are frequently asked by perspective fire academy candidates, "what fire academy should I attend?" Our response is usually a series of questions for the prospective future firefighter. Where do you reside? Where is your community located? Where do you want to serve as a firefighter? Where does your family live? Where will you have a stable support system established?
There are several State Fire Marshal accredited academies in California. Our suggestion is finding a location that can support you during one of the hardest and most challenging college semesters you will ever experience. Having a support system is quintessential and vital in having a successful experience during this grueling process of becoming a firefighter. Build a network of people who support your journey and finding those that can mentor you along the way can be the difference between success and failure. Start by being open and upfront with your family about the challenges you will face and what you need from them to finish. The level of commitment required for the fire academy isn't something that you can take for granted. The fire academy will consume your whole life for at least six months, and you will have no free time.
The level of preparation before the academy is just as important as during the academy. You have to be in top physical condition before you embark on this journey. Many academies require candidates to pass a physical fitness assessment or hold a current candidate physical ability test (CPAT) card as a pre-requisite to starting the academy. To prepare, try various fitness activates such as running, high-intensity training, and functional fitness programs. Many basic fire academies include a run of 1.5 miles, pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, or a combination of fire ground movements as a standard entry assessment. The start of your day during the academy is as early as 4:30 AM and somedays you might leave the drill grounds at approximately 7:30 PM in the evening. Both of us can recall studying for exams till midnight and only receiving four hours of sleep per night. The weekends are not days off; however, they are full days of continuous self-improvement and preparation for future firefighter skills examinations.
(Photo Credits: Craig Clements)
Before the Carr Fire event occurred in Shasta County on July 26th, 2018, another significant event occurred on the Eiler Fire on August 2nd, 2014. Both of these events happened late in the afternoon-evening hours approximately (1700 - 2000). Both of these significant events in Shasta County had similar extreme fire behavior and rapid fire growth. The year of 2017 was California's most destructive fire season on record according to CAL FIRE. Now 2018 appears to be no different with a total acreage burned at an estimated 460,000 acres. California has endured an unprecedented and catastrophic few years during what some consider our new normal. Historically, our fire season is during the summer months, however with this extreme fire behavior so early, maybe we should recognize that California no longer has a fire season.
As of today, August 4th, 2018, the Carr Fire is the sixth most destructive wildland fire in California history based on acres burned and structures destroyed. A cataclysmic firestorm is also occurring in Northern California off Highway 20 near Potter Valley, northeast of Ukiah started on July 27, 2018. The Ranch Fire and River Fire, both part of the Mendocino Complex has engulfed over 229, 006 acres and destroyed over 55 residences with 3,529 fire personnel assigned. The Ferguson Fire started on July 13th, 2018, on the Sierra National Forest near Yosemite National Park, has consumed over 81, 699 acres with 2,792 fire personnel assigned. An unfathomable 460,000 acres have burned in California between these campaign fires and fire season has just started.
Due to the multiple wildland fires burning across the entire State of California, resources are stretched extremely thin and now our master mutual aid system has requested additional resources from Australia and New Zealand. On Monday, August 6th, 150 international firefighters will arrive to assist the State of California with the firestorm of 2018. The California National Guard has mobilized over 800 soldiers and the 146th Airlift Wing to help with the firefight. At least 17 States have answered the call and have deployed resources to California including as far as New Jersey. Over 14,000 firefighters currently deployed across California on 17 massive wildfires.
(Photo Credits: Author)
“The best tool for fire attack is your brain. The only limits to maximizing its effectiveness are the barriers you put in place. Be as aggressive in obtaining knowledge as you are in advancing an attack line.” – Chief John Tippett
This quote sparked my interest recently on twitter. I wholeheartedly agree with Chief Tippett regarding the importance of utilizing your mind to increase your maximum effectiveness on the fire ground. As an educator, I share with my students, “the most important Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you have is between your ears." With some humor, I also emphasize the importance of wearing your fire helmet is to protect this important tool as well.
Aggressively Thinking Firefighters (ATF), another acronym for the fire service, we can add this to the list of approximately hundreds if not thousands of already fire service related acronyms in existence. After all, we utilize acronyms just to remember all the other acronyms. I am patiently waiting for the Field Operations Guide (FOG) manual on just fire service related acronyms, however, I have digressed.
I recently watched an online webinar regarding hiring firefighter applicants and the main Subject Matter Expert (SME) remarked that overall the fire service is not the place for candidates that have higher levels of intelligence during the testing process. I was immediately taken back and stunned by this professional and his statement. I continued watching the video and I listened with an open mind to why this psychologist asserted his opinion on why hiring panels should not hire for intelligence.
(Photo Credits: Author)
If you truly know your why, you will also without a doubt unequivocally comprehend your what, where, when and how for your life. In order to be a leader at home in your personal life or at work in your professional life; you must clearly establish your own strategic mission and vision statements. Your core values will support your mission statement based upon your own unique morals, ethics, and beliefs. Everything starts and ends with your why. Your own personal leadership qualities are rooted in these very specific core values and they are established on the firm foundation of your personal mission statement. I encourage you to consider these words and make the commitment to apply these principles to your own personal and professional pursuits.
I was previously challenged by my valued mentors with this same exact question. Based on those challenging discussions with these integral mentors, it was critically important for me to clearly identify my priorities. Ultimately, the reason why I exist is rooted in having a clearly established mission statement for my life. Allow your passion to lead you to your purpose.
I am extremely thankful to each of these mentors for encouraging me to layout my own specific strategic blueprint for my life both personally and professionally. My mentors have made all the difference in my life. I would not be where I am at today without their continued support and words of encouragement. Truly mentors make all the difference in our lives.
“All that I am I owe, I live eternally in the red.”– Dr. Carl Holmes
THE FUTURE FEMALE FIREFIGHTER
“I can’t help but tell you that it’s all about the mentorship. Without the direction and guidance of those who have come before us, there is no way that either one of us would be here. The main message I want to relay to everyone is this, we can’t do this job alone. Whether you are a woman or a man, you are going to need the advice and the guidance that we all need in every profession to succeed and thrive.” – Assistant Chief Nicol Juratovac
(Photo Credits: B Shifter Magazine).
I recently attended a train-the-trainer class for a new Everyone Goes Home® program course titled ‘Attributes of Leading’ created by Dr. Brian Crandell of the Crandell Research Group, Battalion Chief Kevin Conant (Retired) of Command Coaching, and videographer/editor Captain Jake Pelk, of FD Training Solutions. This course was an integral part of the 2018 National Everyone Goes Home® Advocate / Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors workshop.
Weaving together a tapestry of different perspectives, the content of this course showcases fire department members across the country sharing in a discussion of the key attributes of leading, from the foggy San Francisco Bay to the frozen lakes of Minnesota. Volunteer, career, and combination departments participated in this training course from the Boone County Fire District in Columbia, Missouri to the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Loveland, Ohio. Attributes of Leading focuses on several key attributes of leading including Developing Competence, Building Grit, Being Well, Exercising Self-Regulation, Demonstrating Humility, and Developing Trust. Notice they are all verbs, action words because leading is an action, not a subject.
(Photo Credits @MTLfirehousefitness IG)
“Fitness is 90% mental, 10% execution. The body cannot go where the mind does not believe.” – Lieutenant Jim Moss
“Attitude comes first. We must accept the fact that our fitness is a requirement of the profession.” – Chief Dan Kerrigan
To watch this episode with Dr. Harry R. Carter, please fast forward to the (50:10) mark.
Trusted Voices - Live from FDIC 2018
Chris Baker, has over twelve years of experience in volunteer, combination, and career, fire departments in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command, Company Officer. Chris is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. He is a Fire Science Instructor in the California Community Colleges System. Chris is a member of the California Fire Technology Directors’ Association and the California Training Officers Association. He served as a volunteer Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) for both hiring and recruitment/retention. Chris also served as a Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). He is a Volunteer Advocate Regional Manager, Region IX (CA, NV, AZ, HI) for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Chris also serves as a volunteer member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section serving in their staging area. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Fire Heritage Center located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Chris is a National Fire Service Instructor teaching at notable fire conferences across the country. He is the co-host of The Future Fighter, Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio Show. Chris writes blog articles for Firefighter Nation, Fire Rescue and Fire Engineering Magazines on mentoring the future generations of the fire service.
Live from FDIC 2018: Day Five
The Value of Education in the Fire Service
The Future Firefighter: Episode 1724 show notes with Fire Chief Jacob McAfee from the Fresno City College - FCC Fire Academy.
“The bottom line in leadership isn't how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.” (Maxwell, 1998)
Excerpt from the book by John C. Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You
I am excited to announce 'The Future Firefighter' - Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio Show premiers January 18th, 2018! Please tune in at 4:30PM PST.
Thank you Chief Bobby Halton and the Fire Engineering family for this opportunity.
Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio
Series from Chris Baker on taking charge of yourself (author photo)
Read More Here at Firefighter Nation
Chris Baker has over 10 years of experience in volunteer, combination and career fire departments in California. Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command Company Officer. He is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. Chris is a Fire Science Instructor in the California Community College System. He is a member and educator with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. Chris is an Advocate for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation.
09/21/2017Series from Chris Baker on taking charge of yourself.
Read More Here at: Firefighter Nation
Chris Baker has over 10 years of experience in volunteer, combination and career fire departments in California. Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command Company Officer. He is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. Chris is an Adjunct Instructor in the California Community College System. He is a member and educator with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. Chris is an Advocate for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation.
Read More Here at: Fire Engineering Fire Blog Roundup
Cover Photo Courtesy: California Fire Foundation