Firefighter Training, Firefighting, Fireground Safety, Health & Safety

National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Applicant/Recruit Testing

Firefighting involves a blend of intelligence, strength, and skill that are measured in a variety of ways throughout a firefighter’s career. Entry-level testing is the first step in a long series of evaluations that assess a prospective firefighter’s cerebral and tactile ability to do the job. Testing varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, ranging from no practical skills exam to the validated Candidate Physical Ability Test endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and International Association of Fire Fighters. This week’s featured firefighter near-miss report takes us to a practical skills exam that involves a significant near miss.

“I was testing for a local paid department and had made it to the practical skills exam. One of the skills was to tackle a free flowing 2 1/2” attack line and secure the shut off. It was my turn and I wanted to ask the proctor a question. He yelled at me and said, “Do you want this job or not? Get going!” I took off and as I approached the line, it snapped back violently and hit me…”

Two key components to practical testing processes are a validated and safe test. Applicants, recruits, probationary members and incumbents have an expectation that the practical evaluation setting will evaluate skills in a standardized way and keep risks to a minimum. Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

  1. Do the various testing processes used by your department conform to current national best practices?
  2. How often does your department evaluate its testing processes to ensure conformity with national best practices?
  3. Does your department incorporate a scenario like the one described in this week’s report at any level of its evaluation processes?
  4. Are there any special liabilities involved in exposing untrained candidates to actual firefighting scenarios during candidate testing?
  5. What is the recommended procedure for securing a free flowing 2 1/2″ attack line? 

There is no shortage of candidates applying for firefighting jobs. The competition is fierce, since the selection processes have to be governed by best practices, validation and candidate safety. How does your department’s testing process measure up?

Have you experienced a near miss during a testing scenario? Submit your report to today so everyone goes home tomorrow. For more on the value of firefighter near-miss reporting, read this Tailboard Talk column.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.