The fire officer assessment centers are best described as a series of events that are administered to the promotional candidates. These events may include a written exam, an oral interview, an employee counseling scenario, an in-basket exercise, a writing exercise, an emergency scene simulation, or a leaderless group. As a rule, a candidate must pass each event with a minimum passing score (usually 70%) to make it to the eligibility list.
It’s easy for a candidate to become intimidated because there is so much information to learn and process. It can be difficult to try and figure out just where to begin and to know what you can expect from the process. Both items are very straightforward once you understand the process.
The best place to begin to prepare for the fire officer assessment center exam is to review your agency’s policies and procedures. This means you must study the policies for more than just a casual knowledge. Rest assured that the exam will not only test your complete knowledge of the policies and procedures, but it will put you in a position where you must interpret, apply and enforce them. Virtually every component of the exam will be based on your agency’s policies and how you as a fire officer will support and enforce them.
Supporting and enforcing policies often present a conflict for a candidate during the fire officer assessment center exam. The reason for this is simple; policies often become blurry in the fire station as not all of them are enforced. A common example is the uniform policy that states all members must be in a class B uniform (shirt and badge) between the hours of 8 to 5. Over the years this policy has not been enforced. While the policy still exists, it is not really followed. You can bet that the fire chief is not in agreement with the erosion of the policy. He wants this, and all of the other policies enforced. A candidate who is asked how he would enforce the uniform policy during his exam may struggle because he or she feels like they will be the only one enforcing it. Moreover, his current officer doesn’t enforce the policy. This creates confusion for the candidate as to how, or even if, he will enforce the uniform policy. For the record, an officer cannot selectively enforce the policies and procedures.
The fire officer assessment center exam will certainly challenge your knowledge during the written examination. Many agencies give a multiple-choice exam based on the agency’s policies and procedures. It is not uncommon for the exam to include a series of industry related publications as well. You may also have a writing assignment as a component of the written examination. The only way to become familiar with the agency’s policies and procedures is to sit down and study them. Remember, you will need more than a casual knowledge, you want to have a complete understanding of them.
Read the policies and highlight the important information. Read them a second time to make sure you didn’t miss any important information. Once you have highlighted the important information this is where you focus most of your attention. Many successful candidates read their highlights into a voice recorder. They listen to it during their commute to work, while exercising or during their free time. This repetitive hearing of the information has been used by many successful candidates.
Many successful candidates use index cards to help them learn the material. Simply write a question on the front of the card and the answer on the back. Don’t forget to put the reference or page number on the bottom of the card so you can refer to the policy if you need clarification.
Preparing for the fire officer assessment center exam should begin by studying and learning the agency’s policies and procedures. You can rest assured that the exam will be based in large part on them. Candidates who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the policies and procedures and will support and enforce them as a newly promoted fire officer will likely be scored well by the evaluators. To learn more, visit aspiringfireofficers.com