The fire officer in-basket exercise of the promotional exam is one of the most challenging parts of the promotional process. Having a plan for how to approach this portion is critical to your success. There are five critical things to remember for this part of the promotional process. They are:
5 Things to Remember for Fire Officer In-Basket Exercises
- Begin by clearing a space
- Read all items thoroughly
- Priority 1 items must be done now
- Priority 2- falls between priority 1 and 3
- Priority 3 – Low priority
This event is particularly challenging because most firefighters pride themselves on being more operationally minded than administrative.
While this may be the case, the administrative aspects of the position are also extremely important. The in-basket exercise will separate those who do not possess the administrative skills needed for the position.
As you prepare for the fire officer in-basket exercise, it is important that you develop a systematic approach to managing each of the items presented to you.
Begin by clearing a space in front of you to work. Spread out the documents and get a sense of the scope of the assignment. Read the directions thoroughly. Read them a second time and make certain you understand them completely.
Read all items thoroughly before taking any action. Often-times an early item will have a nexus to a later item. If handled before reading all of the items, you will waste valuable time. Pay particular attention to items that are related to one another.
The key to success in a fire officer in-basket exercise is to correctly Prioritize each item. Read each scenario and prioritize it with a number from 1 through 3. Write the number on the top right-hand corner of the document and create a pile for each number.
Priority 1 – Must be done now
The number one reason the fire department exists is to respond to calls for service. Keeping the company in service is extremely important. Typical priority 1 items include staffing issues whether it be an injury, a firefighter who is impaired or does not show up for work. Mechanical issues that affect the ability of the apparatus to respond to calls for service are also a priority 1 issue.
Another number one priority is anything that could make the fire department look bad in the eyes of the community or with the community leaders. An issue that is not dealt with quickly often becomes a significant problem down the road.
Priority 2 – Is anything that falls between numbers one and three
A number two does not rise to the level of having to be addressed immediately, but you cannot push it off for too long either.
Priority 3 – Low priority
Priority 3 items are items that do not require any immediate action and can be delayed without adverse impacts. In fact, if they do not get handled at all they may not even cause you to fail the fire officer in-basket exercise. Of course, your goal should be to address every item to showcase your administrative skills during the exam. A typical example of a Priority 3 item would be an email or a phone call such as a request to visit the fire station or scheduling a fire prevention inspection in the next few shifts. It is not that they are unimportant, it’s just that they are not time sensitive.
Fire officer In-basket exercises are really a test of a candidate’s knowledge of policies and procedures, how they will implement them, and their analytical abilities. Review your policies and procedures and develop action plans for how you will put them into practice when faced with real scenarios.
Best of luck to you. Find more information at AspiringFireOfficers.com.