RED OAK — Hopeful, optimistic and eager candidates were put to the test earlier this month at Red Oak Fire Department. More than 70 applicants took part in a written test and selection was narrowed down to a group of 20 to proceed onto the physical agility portion of application.
“Anything that we ask the candidates to do out here (as a part of this test), myself as the captain or anyone of the other officers could as a firefighter at a fire scene do a task that is very similar to this,” Capt. Casey Greene said. “All the candidates looked good, there were a couple that did not complete the test, of course. For the most part, they did really well on the written and there were some pretty physically fit guys that were out there.”
Recruits had to complete the tasks in under five minutes on the pass/fail exam. One of the first tasks involved hoisting a hose up to the ceiling and lowering it back to the ground. After that, recruits had to connect different segments of hose together and carry them from one point to another. From there, a pressurized hose line had to be moved a specified distance.
A Keiser sled was also used in the testing process. The training apparatus is made up of a metal bar that slides along a track and a sledge hammer is used to move the bar along the track. This machine simulates a forcible entry into a structure. Other tasks included stacking bundled hoses and dragging a dummy to simulate moving an incapacitated person to safety.
“Our best time running the agility from our in-house guys, with current personnel, was 3:35. We actually had a guy that matched 3:35. Our best time today was 3:35 and we even had a guy that did a 4:58 today,” he said. “The ladder portion of the exam is not timed; it is just a completion of it. I don’t want it to be timed and their thinking they have to run themselves to the top where they might get injured.”
After the timed portion of the physical agility test, candidates took time to catch their breath and get some water and rest before climbing to the top of the ladder. After the test, those who passed were asked to come back to continue the interview process, which involves a background check, a polygraph, psychological evaluation, a board interview and a final chief interview.
“This is one aspect of the whole process. You have to be mentally able to do it and that is the written. You have to be physically able to do it and that is my part. Then comes the background: We want to hire good guys, good candidates with a very clean background,” he said.
“We have that option to do that because we have so many applicants to pick from. We are just trying to narrow it down to find a smart person, a very knowledgeable person, who is physically fit and has a very clean background,” he said.
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