Dummy run for new fire­fighter re­cruits

Central Leader - - News - By Ni­cola Wil­liams

En­durance and men­tal stamina are put to the test for the chance to join a re­spected pro­fes­sion and em­bark on an ex­cit­ing ca­reer.

The Fire Ser­vice open day gave po­ten­tial can­di­dates the chance to as­sess their fit­ness.

The trial run pro­vides as­pir­ing fire­men and women with the op­por­tu­nity to learn ar­eas they need to im­prove on for the ac­tual test in March which de­cides if they can pro­ceed through the rest of the re­cruit­ment process.

More than 70 po­ten­tial re­cruits turned up and were talked through as­pects of the job.

Fire in­ci­dents equate to 5 per­cent of the job with the re­main­ing por­tion work­ing in the com­mu­nity through schools and busi­nesses.

This re­quires a good team­work ori­en­tated per­son­al­ity and ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.

Stan­dards are kept high by peer pres­sure be­cause col­leagues rely on each other in life and death sit­u­a­tions.

The omi­nous-look­ing train­ing tower at the Mt Welling­ton train­ing cen­tre had been heated to 70 de­grees cel­sius for the course.

Just walk­ing in was a shock to the sys­tem, and I wasn’t wear­ing all the gear can­di­dates would be in to per­form tasks in black­out con­di­tions with syn­thetic smoke.

I’m told that one in four can’t han­dle it.

Panic and claus­tro­pho­bia sees some rip their mask off and dam­age their chances of get­ting through.

Af­ter the stair climb with an 18kg weight on my shoul­ders I had an el­e­vated heart rate.

The job-re­lated tasks give a taste of what the phys­i­cal part of the job would be like.

I got to run a hose out 40 me­tres and at­tempt to hoist a lad­der by rope.

Can­di­dates were put through push-ups and shoul­der presses in time to a metronome and their strength was tested by a de­vice that could mea­sure hand grip and the force be­hind a dead lift.

Then there was the 90kg dummy I had been eye­ing up, not lik­ing my chances of even mov­ing it.

To my sur­prise with the right tech­nique it was man­age­able.

But be­cause it is the last task it is tougher for an al­ready fa­tigued body.

“It weighs less than me and I would ex­pect my col­leagues to get me out if I were in trou­ble,” says a fire­fighter.

Avon­dale fire­fighter Hay­den Robin­son says the in­tense 11-week train­ing course is all worth it be­cause “it is the best job in the world”.

He says it is a big re­spon­si­bil­ity to up­hold the val­ues of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Hope­ful can­di­dates talked about their de­ci­sion to try out for the Fire Ser­vice.

It’s a ca­reer change for many of them who want to make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity.

Can­di­dates re­ceived feed­back on what they needed to work on to pass the test in March, each iden­ti­fy­ing dif­fer­ent chal­lenges.

Pho­tos: FIONA GOODALL

Ready for ac­tion: Frank Feau of Pa­p­a­toe­toe gets to grips with the chal­lenge.

Power run: Ya­jun Zhang steps out with the hose.

Words of en­cour­age­ment: Fire­fighter Chonell Ford, left, gives some in­struc­tion to Ta­nia Cas­sidy.

Spec­ta­tor turned par­tic­i­pant: hands on with news re­port­ing.

Ni­cola Wil­liams gets

Timed trial: Ja­son Flem­ing drags the hose.

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