[IPAC-List] Call for new models for fire promotional exams
jwiesen at appliedpersonnelresearch.com
Thu Dec 10 11:10:56 EST 2009
The recent thread on Ricci prompts this email on an idea that has
intrigued me for years.
We (and the fire service) might consider reconceptualizing fire
promotional exams. I see promise for improving
productivity/effectiveness and reducing adverse impact.
Consider the job of Fire Lieutenant. The current promotional exam
process is designed to select people who can do the job of Lieutenant
immediately on appointment.
Typically, the only entrance requirement for a promotional exam is
several years experience in the next lower title (e.g., as a Firefighter
for the job of Lieutenant).
To the extent that promotional exams test supervisory KSAPs, the current
promotional exam system leaves firefighters largely or completely to
their own devices to learn the job of Lieutenant. (Yes, often there is
a published reading list, however, the books do not address the
complexities and range of application of strategy and tactics seen in
firefighting, perhaps because real-world fire situations are so varied
There might be alternative promotional exam systems that would have less
adverse impact while maintaining or improving overall job performance of
Lieutenants, especially new Lieutenants (say for the first 5 or 10 years
on the job). For example, the fire department might offer training
classes for promotion to Lieutenant, designed so that successful
completion of the classes could serve as an entrance requirement for the
promotional exam. It may well be that all students would master the
material, as is typically seen in fire recruit training programs. The
promotional exam might then focus on past job performance (reliability,
customer service, cautiousness, judgment, etc.)
P.S. I suggest Fire Lieutenants might take 5-10 years to master
strategy and tactics because there are so few fires in most
municipalities (due to improvements in the building codes over past
generations). One Fire Chief told me he sends new Lieutenants to a
nearby large city to get experience fighting fires, as there are so few
fires in his community.
Joel P. Wiesen, Ph.D., Director
Applied Personnel Research
62 Candlewood Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583-6040
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