Burned by the Fire... Department
Posted on February 23rd, 2011

So I started this post about two weeks ago and am just now getting back around to it. If you know me, you know that I recently applied for the Austin Fire Department to become a firefighter. Apparently, so did 5,000 other people. Long story short, I made it past the first round of cuts based on my application alone and thus eligible to take a basic written exam back in late January along with about 3,300 other applicants. The exam consisted of a basic cognitive skills test and two personality/morality type tests.

The cognitive test was a breeze. Think basic grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension. The personality tests also seemed easy, but those were subjective. In the end when I got ready to review the test results of who passed and moved onto the next level, I did not find myself on the still massive 2,500 + list. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed as I figured I would’ve at least made it past that point, despite the still Hail Mary pass of a chance I had at making the final cut among currently employed firefighters and EMTs from other cities. My only thoughts were that I somehow was cut based on my answers to the personality tests. Before taking it I knew I could easily lie and pretend to be the perfect, Superman-type boy scout, but I felt I owed it to myself to be true to myself and answer honestly. Does that mean I aired out all my political and personal view? No. Given that I was limited to a range of “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree”, I had to err on the side of conservative for some questions since I had no forum to express my opinions or explain why.

So do I consider myself an immoral person or incapable of handling a high stress job such as firefighting? Of course not. I just find it hard to believe there are really that many good and perfect people out there wanting to become firefighters, so best of luck to the Austin Fire Department with a bunch of people who seem to have “the right stuff”, but may not deliver when it counts. That sounds kind of bitter when I read it back, but it’s how I feel, especially after doing a lot of physical training on my own to prepare ahead of time, though I’m doing my best to keep up with that training despite not making the cut.

Oh well, as they say, “as one door closes another one opens”. So now I find myself in search of that open door. At the very least I now have more time to focus on my writing and really get things going.


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