Hiring process / probationary year

Thirty-two years ago, I made a choice to join the volunteer fire department in my small community. I knew several people serving and wanted to do something to help the community. Little did I know, that decision would change my life and begin the greatest adventure I could imagine.

I enjoyed being a part of the organization and getting involved with all the members do for the community. Going on calls was exciting and adventurous; you never knew what to expect. Now here I am, writing this story about this incredible part of my life that has been filled with so many memories I could go on all week.

Nearly 29 years ago, I made a choice to apply at the Minot Fire Department. It was at that moment my life changed forever. I completed the testing process and was successful. I was now doing full time, what I had quickly learned to love.

Minot Fire Department is an all career department, one of approximately 2,800 in the United States, that protects approximately 49,000 residents living in the Magic City. Once or twice a year, the Minot Fire Department offers testing opportunities for individuals seeking employment in firefighting. Currently 3 percent of our firefighters are female, compared to 4 percent nationally.

Minot’s hiring process is similar to most career departments. When openings are posted, you apply in person or on-line. You will be notified of the dates for the testing process. There is a written civil service exam administered by the City of Minot’s Human Resources Department. You will need a passing grade of 70 percent or better to advance. On the same day, you will proceed to the training facility for the physical agility portion of the testing. This testing consists of several elements that determine if you are claustrophobic or have a fear of heights, and will also test your strength and endurance. It is similar to the Candidate Physical Abilities Test, which is a nationally standardized firefighting test. This is a pass/fail test with a time limit for the strength and endurance portion. Then it’s on to interviews for the top candidates.

Offers are made and in the near future, the adventure begins. The first week on the job for a new firefighter is a lot of paperwork and orientation, getting to meet everyone, and starting your academy. Your academy will run three to seven weeks depending on variable elements. During this time, you will work 8-hour day shifts. This is your opportunity to learn the basics and become efficient with them so when shift work begins, you stay safe and are an asset to your team.

After you complete the academy, you are assigned a shift and, for the next year, you will work on your probationary requirements while working 24-hour shifts. During this year you will have two goals: complete your Emergency Medical Technician training and complete the requirements for firefighter 1. You will complete written tests and skill checklists every month to meet the requirement for the final firefighter 1 testing. You will become proficient in many areas of firefighting.

Recruits progress through their first year, reach their goals, become part of their teams. Seeing the pride expressed when probationary requirements are completed and they receive their black helmets lets me know they have made a life-changing decision, as I did many years ago. Their training never ends as there are simply too many things to learn. They will advance to the hazardous materials or technical rescue teams as well as many other opportunities. Relationships are developed like no other, and everyone gains another family.

To finish my story, I can say this was not a plan I had for my future. I had a great job with great benefits prior to coming to the Minot Fire Department. But in life, there are many things you cannot control; the Gulf War started and funding for my job was cut. I was unemployed.

I pondered my future and decided I would return to school and continue my education. I was set to enroll in a Minnesota college and planned to leave in August. My decision was difficult as my family was here and I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision. My brother called in June and told me the Minot Fire Department was hiring. I have no regrets, nor have I ever doubted my decision to apply here. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I am living my dream.

I consider myself one of a lucky few who can say I love my job as much today as I did nearly 29 years ago. Though I no longer ride the trucks, I wake up knowing that what we do makes a difference. We serve the citizens of Minot with pride and dedication, providing services to ensure their well-being and safety. There is no greater reward than knowing you truly make a difference every day.

I cannot say your story will be the same as mine. What I can say is you may have a similar story if you have an interest in the greatest career in the world, or know someone who may. I encourage you to join us at our next hiring process in May 2020. Applications open on March 2 and are available online at www.minotnd.org.

Prepare yourself for the process by taking practice tests that are available online and work on your conditioning.

We look forward to seeing you in May.