Hire good character first | Fire station

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Hire good people: This is easier said than done. That being the case, why do we make it difficult for ourselves in certain cases?

Additionally, the great plague of recruitment and retention in the volunteer fire service is now affecting the career side of the coin. Departments had to adapt before the snowball effect of continually hiring new hires and pushing them out became too great.

Before any qualification, we must look at the most important aspect of employment in the fire service: character. Is the individual disciplined? Is the person humble? Does the individual have good morals, etc.?

Granted, I may be writing to a more specific audience of departments – those similar in size and composition to the one I’m a part of – but the question of why we should hire characters rather than qualifications, such as a paramedic license, fire certifications or a college degree, is a conversation that happens often. My department has successfully changed the way it hires, and these successes reinforce why the fire department should invest in good character, as it pays long-term dividends.

Cadet programs, part-time staff and chaperones

How do you assess the character through, maybe, one, two or three formal interviews? The answer: Yes, and you don’t, but here are some ideas on how to increase the likelihood that a candidate’s character will emerge through interview assessments.

If your department does not have a cadet/explorer program, I strongly encourage you to create one. There is no better way to assess character and mold individuals to become a valuable future teammate in your department than by beginning assessment before they turn 18.

My department recently hired two cadets who were attending paramedical school, because they showed great character during their years in the cadet/explorer program. In years past, my department would have hired two paramedics instead, if we could find them.

A huge benefit of a cadet program is the evaluation of local kids who have roots in the community, know the community, and are very likely to stay with the department for a 20-30 year career. That’s instead of hiring five more candidates – who could very well have more certifications – during this period.

If you are a mixed department, as my department is, you have another way to assess the character of potential candidates: you can easily assess the work ethic, humility and discipline of the staff on time. part in which you may want to invest more as career members. .

Finally, encourage travel time for candidates and potential candidates. The more eyes and ears that see and hear a candidate, the better. Next, listen to your staff and line members as to their judgment of the candidates’ character. Every minute at the fire station is an on-the-job interview.

It’s pretty easy for my department as an organization to know within 12 hours whether we want to work with a candidate.

What happens if a candidate does not want or cannot carpool? Make it part of the hiring process. My department recently conducted interviews with non-paramedics, and to better assess their character – and to get a better idea of ​​whether we want to invest more training and money – the best interviewees should do a shift .

The new generation of candidates

Why invest in good character rather than a fire certification or paramedic license, which would allow a candidate to immediately start working at full throttle for the organization? Let me ask a few follow-up questions: How often do line staff say newcomers need to learn the real world right away? How often do people who know the books but have no common sense pass a course?

There is no better way to shape individuals than to have them work full time to help things “click” in school. Plus, they won’t be a robot out of school that will take six months or more to undo the Rubik’s Cube that makes the difference between school and work.

The days of hundreds, let alone thousands, of candidates pounding on your door for the “best job in the world” are not over, but they are certainly on a break. Admittedly, the aforementioned ideas are not universal or new, but the fire department needs to grow and improve its communication with new generations of candidates and potential candidates. Start communicating with them, so you can start assessing their character.

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