Can You Stand the Heat?
You hear their sirens every day, but most people have no idea what it takes to be a firefighter. So we have an inside look at the demanding physical test that determines whether you can stand the heat.
Lieutenant Keith Saunders of Gainesville Fire-Rescue said, "You're not gonna get off the bus and just walk in here and pass this test if you haven't been working out...that's a fact."
This week Gainesville Fire-Rescue will put hundreds of potential hires through a grueling seven part fitness test.
Lieutenant Don Campbell said, "Well it's gonna simulate you performing different skills that you would need to perform on a fire ground....carrying all of your personal protective equipment."
Each candidate has to wear a weighted vest to make sure they can handle the protective gear they must wear when fighting a fire. Lieutenant Tim Bowen said, "Most people don't know what it's like to have 75 pounds on their shoulders and then having to actually exercise."
The test, which is nationally regarded as a measure of physical readiness, is the second step in the hiring process. 636 people applied to work at G.F.R. this year, but only 13 out of those who complete the necessary schooling, written test, physical fitness requirements and a behavioral exam, will actually be hired. Firefighter Amanda James said, "Once you finish college and everything, just getting hired somewhere cause everything's on a hiring freeze right now and then you have this test...this test is nationally known as like the hardest test known."
Lieutenant Saunders runs through the test each day to make sure it's set up correctly. He finished in 8 minutes and 20 seconds, 2 minutes under the 10 minute and 20 second limit. I gave it a try too...
Clearly, I'm not ready to become a firefighter, but for those who are, this test validates the skills they'll need in real life situations. And passing the physical test is only the beginning.
James said, "Be prepared for long days, being able to push yourself to the max. Just when you think oh this is my max, no. Push further cause you're going to need to."
It's a test and a profession that only a select few have the courage and endurance to handle.
The 13 new firefighters hired through this process will help staff the new Gainesville Fire-Rescue station opening this summer in Northwest Gainesville.
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