Nine candidates began training for two open positions at the LaGrange Fire Department Tuesday. The first part of the four-day process took place at the department’s training center, located on Fort Drive, and included an agility course and skills assessment.
“We try to let the process dictate what happens,” LaGrange Fire Capt. John Brant said. “The scores really speak for themselves.”
Brant was one of 11 personnel from the fire department on hand to assist with the training. He said the agility course is meant to test the candidates’ physical and mental ability.
“I don’t think you can physically prepare for this,” one candidate said, adding that he went to the gym in an effort to prepare. The agility course, he said, turned out to be more mentally challenging than he expected.
“When you hear yourself breathing in that mask, it gets your mind going,” he said. “Just to make it through feels good, because I know that I can do it.”
The course included different stations requiring a range of skills, from raising a ladder to clearing an attic. They also dragged a 165-pound dummy 100 feet and climbed through a pipe to test for claustrophobia. Candidates finished the course in an average of about 10 minutes.
Candidates said the encouraging words of Brant, and other members of the fire department, helped them push through the most difficult parts toward the the end of the course.
“Some people can be really strong here, and weaker in the interview,” he said. “We need people who are well-rounded, especially with technology today,” he said.
The hiring process continues with oral interviews today and Friday, and oral exams and written essays Monday.
“There’s a lot of potential in this group,” Lt. Caleb Harrison said. “The hardest part is being here today, and they already took that step.”
The LaGrange Fire Department requires that employment candidates be at least 18 years old, have a valid U.S. driver’s license, high school diploma, good work history and clean background. Once they are hired, the police department does a more thorough background check, Brant said.