Most of the comments received in recent times revolve around one topic, recruitment. Many who read this will know that if you chose a career as a firefighter, the biggest battle you will have is getting a foot in the door. The odds of being accepted as a recruit are not great. It varies between states and also year to year but the best chance you are likely to have will be 1 in 50 approx, and that can blow out to 1 in 100. The low turnover of staff and the sheer number of people that apply are the main contributors to the problem.
Firefighting is no ordinary job, its a cliche but for many it is a calling. It is not uncommon for some to apply in every intake for up to 15 years before they are accepted. Many will never be accepted, and many are shattered each and every time they get rejected.
With that in mind you would hope that the various Human Resource Departments of each fire service would treat the process with respect. It appears that most do, it also appears that Fire and Rescue NSW doesn’t.
Where do we start. Fire and Rescue NSW have only recently altered the process, prior to a few years ago all fire services in Australia were similar. Fire and Rescue NSW now stands out as being clearly different. Different is not a bad thing if it works. The readers can make up their own mind on that one.
One difference is the time frame for the process. All fire services in Australia, and most large brigades in the world generally recruit over at least a 2 year period, as did NSW in the past. NSW now recruits yearly, but obviously half (for example) the amount of firefighters are recruited compared to the others. Is this a problem? It appears to be, mistakes are getting made, as anyone who applied last year and again this year would attest too. A 12 month waiting period is required by the external online company “Onetest” before a second test can be taken. We have been informed that this is done to ensure candidates can not practice. Generally not a problem until the recruitment drive is moved forward 3 months in comparison to the previous year meaning only a nine month gap is available between tests.
Like it or not you are stuck with the same scores you attained from the previous year. The same scores that did not get you in the previous year. The exams themselves are interesting, the glaring problem is that they are not supervised. Onetest advise, from their website, that they expect around 10-12% of applicants will cheat across most industries, and that is from the company that is selling the product! All other main fire services in Australia have supervised tests.
Fire and Rescue NSW have bowed to pressure and will now confirm your performance with a supervised exam for those that are likely to get in. In the few years prior it was impossible to determine if the person that sat the exam was actually the person that they recruited. An improvement but still alarmingly short of the mark. The fact is that at a bare minimum we can expect that 700 applicants will cheat. Now obviously they may well be found out, but the problem is that most people cheat up (find someone that is likely to score higher than themselves), which means if your first combined score was borderline you could easily be bumped by any of these 700 candidates. They may be found out, but you are out of the game, all because you did the correct thing.
Now would be a good time to welcome on board one of our newest followers, Fire and Rescue NSW. Boys and girls, we need to lift the bar with this one. A number of firies and HR staff have info regarding recruiting that at a guess would be considered more sensitive than above, not illegal or unfair, but certainly entertaining. We understand that everybody makes mistakes, and the firies that have the info may well have made a mistake, so no need to go any further at this stage.
In the next few months we will looking for evidence that would suggest that every candidate is graded only on the abilities required to be a firefighter and that all minority groups be a fair representation of those that apply.
I would not be too concerned about any additional that the firies believe they have, they enjoy a good bluff, dont we all! Lets meet up again in a while and hopefully we will be able to confirm that those firie tricksters were just having a dig at our expense.
As an afterthought, the Fire Brigade has operated for well over 100 years and you still have not employed anyone from our American Indian community, and you come up a bit short on recruits that part their hair on the right hand side of their head. Not good enough people. Diversity!
Best wishes to all.