[IPAC-List] Ideal PPT for FF

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Mon Mar 15 09:53:31 EDT 2010

There are a lot of jobs I describe to people as "being like
firefighters, or the military: you generally don't need them, but when
you need them you REALLY need them".

Speaking as an outsider, the thing I wonder about firefighters is how
consistently high physical performance/endurance is required for the
job. In other words, much like the profession itself, is physical
performance, and especially peak physical performance, something you
generally don't regularly need in a firefighter, but when you need it,
you REALLY need it?

To my mind that has implications for how one uses PPTs. If it was the
case that greater physical endurance beyond some modicum was essentially
a nice-to-have, then one might be content with a simple
validly-established pass/fail use of a PPT, and no ranking based on it
would be applied. If it was the case that demands for something more
than what the pass mark would indicate/predict can occur on a basis
which, although perhaps not weekly, would occur frequently enough during
any given year that it would be meaningful, then that starts to muster
support for using the PPT to rank candidates for certain positions.

In a sense, the use of ranking vs simple pass mark would depend
somewhat on the stringency of the pass mark. In other words, if the
"good enough" point is low enough, then scores exceeding that point
become meaningful, and rankings make sense. If the pass mark is fairly
stringent, then the odds of any given work-related task exceeding those
requirements becomes quite rare indeed, and further ranking of those
scores dwindles in meaningfulness/validity. Of course, one can't make
pass mark so stringent that only über-menschen need apply - you may find
yourself a little short-staffed. Conversely, one should not make more
of small differences in physical performance test results than ought to
be made. Something comparable to banding on PPTs has some face validity
in certain cases.

Now you've got e a little curious. Are there comparable adjacent
jurisdictions where one uses a pass mark and the other uses rankings or
the same dimension? (i.e., physical testing). Is there any sort of
joint multi-jurisdictional effort to identify standards of physical
performance, or do they each go their own way and hope to develop tests
that work for *them*?

Mark Hammer

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