The Baraboo Fire Department held a new recruit “boot camp” on Thursday as part of an on-going hiring process.
The physical agility test, which tests the recruits strength and stamina while performing common duties of the firefighting job, is part of a pre-employment process. Prospects must pass the test, along with other aspects of the hiring process before they are offered a position with the department.
The test requires the prospect to wear full fire gear, including an oxygen tank and perform physically demanding aspects of the job. These include raising a latter and climbing to the top of a building, crawling through a tube to simulate being confined in small spaces and dragging a dummy.
The prospects must also drag a fire hose full of water, and spray a cone until it falls over. They also have to use a sledge hammer to move a metal object 3 feet to simulate swinging a sledge hammer through the roof of a house, and climb the stairs to the fire department twice.
“These are all firefighter skills, but we want to make sure they do them safely,” said Assistant Chief Mark Willer. “We want to make sure they are physically able to do them too.”
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A licensed athletic trainer, Besty Egan from SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo was present to pass or fail candidates at the test. Egan watched the candidates to make sure they were properly performing the tasks and ensured that their physical strength and stamina would allow them to perform well on the job.
“I’m just making sure they can do everything appropriately, their form looks good and they aren’t going to put themselves at risk,” said Egan. “It’s mainly for safety, making sure they are able to do everything they will be asked to do once they take on the job.
The physical test is one part of the hiring process. If the candidates pass, they also have to undergo an in-person interview, an online personnel test, background and reference checks and a follow up interview to ensure they understand the time commitments and responsibilities of the job, according to Chief Kevin Stieve.
“We’re really looking to hire as many as we can get through the process,” said Stieve. “It’s a lot of information thrown at them in a short period of time.”
Stieve hopes to move the process along quickly, to get any new hires into an upcoming firefighter class in the end of September.