Preparing for Background and Medical Exams for Becoming a Firefighter

There are some key elements that add in to your overall character in every person.  You can tell a lot from a person by reviewing their credit scores, financial history and background information.  You can also tell a lot about someone by looking at the results of a medical exam that is conducted in order to determine what kind of shape they are in.  All of these items will help the interviewing parties determine what kind of candidate you are so it’s important to make sure that you address each item we are about to discuss before ever starting the screening process.  Below you will see two lists of what you can do to prepare for each part of the exam.

Things you can do prior to your Background Check:

  • Clean up your credit:  As discussed prior, financial records can tell you a lot about someone’s character.  If you have minor medical bills that may have slipped through the cracks, go pay them and start the process to remove them from your credit report.  If you defaulted on student loans in the past, or had a foreclosure, I’d recommend typing up a hardship letter that explained the situation and why it happened before a financial evaluation has been completed.
  • Make sure you don’t have a criminal record:  This is pretty straightforward.  Most departments will not hire you if you have a felony on your record, let alone a misdemeanor.  If you think there are items out there that might be lagging around (think criminal traffic tickets) then go get them remedied prior to starting this process and keep your proof it was done so you can provide it to your interviewer or the administrative team.
  • Prep your references:  Make sure your references are prepped that someone from the fire division will be contacting them to ask personal questions about you.  You need to be up front and honest with anyone you list as a referral since there’s a pretty good chance that they will be called upon to vouch for you and your character.  Don’t give your reference a script by any means, but make sure they are aware that someone will be calling so that they know to divulge whatever information is necessary to get you in.
  • Be Truthful:  If something comes up, don’t try to hide it.  Explain the situation and walk through it with anyone you are interviewing with at your department that might request it.  Lying about a situation is probably one of the worst moral character traits and it’s sure to get you walked out the door.

Here are some good tips on how to prep for the Medical Examination:

  • Get a Physical:  Get a Physical examination done by your family practice physician.  Becoming a firefighter is one of the most challenging physical jobs you can have.  You want to make sure that your doctor gives you a clean bill of health before starting down the path.
  • Lose Weight:  If you are overweight, set up a plan to start eating healthy and work on getting yourself within acceptable department weight standards before you apply.  You need to be strong, fast, and agile if you are going to have a career as a firefighter, so you will need to make sure that you do what you can to get healthy as soon as possible.
  • Exercise:  We’ve talked about this in our firefighter workout routine.  You can really help your cause and set yourself apart if you’ve trained hard both strength wise and cardiovascular wise.  It will benefit you during the medical exam as well as during the CPAT.
  • Tie Up Any Medical Loose Ends:  When I first started looking at firefighter options, I had a hernia.  I didn’t know what it was, nor why it felt odd that something was sticking out of me where it shouldn’t have been.  Had I been smart I would have had the surgery well before I actually tried applying to become a firefighter.  It would have made that part of my life and training just that much easier to have that loose end tied off so I could move on.  Instead I had to reapply once the surgery was completed and I was back to normal physical health.

If you follow these instructions, you will be well on your way to being far better prepped than your competition during your medical exam and background check portion of the hiring process.  Remember this:  If it wasn’t a difficult road, everyone would be a firefighter.

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