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March 23, 2012 > Welcome to Fremont

Welcome to Fremont

By Jesse Miller-Smith

The path I took to becoming a probationary firefighter/paramedic with the Fremont Fire Department wasn't planned or conventional but nonetheless, the amount of respect, gratitude, and genuine excitement I have for my new job with the City of Fremont couldn't be any greater. The previous four years of my career was spent with the City of Reno Fire Department during the most tumultuous time in its history so moving to the City of Fremont was like a breath of fresh air; it rejuvenated my career.

Since the economic meltdown of 2008, Reno Fire had been laying off firefighters about every 6-12 months until eventually it was my turn last March. I knew when I cleaned out my locker and returned my firefighting gear that I needed to move on with my life and find a job elsewhere even though there was a decent chance I could be rehired by Reno Fire in the future. A job posting online for "lateral", experienced, firefighter/paramedics in the City of Fremont Fire Department caught my eye. Applicants were required to have at least two years of paid firefighting/paramedic experience plus various other firefighting certifications.

My experience erased any requirements for another stint at fire academy; I have been through three fire academies in my career. This was a perfect fit and I immediately submitted an application, making several trips to Fremont to learn about the city and the department. I was impressed with the friendly and professional the fire department staff and liked the demographics of Fremont, a diverse and well-educated city that has maintained some of its original character.

I learned that Fremont Fire is an "all risk" fire department which means it responds to an extremely wide variety of emergencies including, but are not limited to, structure fires, vegetation fires, emergency medical calls, motor vehicle accidents, technical rope rescues, water rescues, and hazardous materials incidents. I was sold. I had to become a Fremont firefighter/paramedic.

During the application process April-May, 2011, I completed a series of tests conducted through the City of Fremont Human Resources ranging from paramedic skills evaluations to oral board interviews. After several stages that narrowed the applicant pool, I was selected to be in the final group, moving on to a background check and psychological test. The background check was thorough and took almost three months to complete. Finally, the week of my wedding in August, I found out that I had passed the background check and only a psychological test stood in my way.

Although I was thrilled to come this far in the hiring process, I was a bit intimidated by the psychological test. I had never been through anything like it before and I really didn't know what to expect. The test was conducted by a well-known public safety psychologist in Santa Rosa and turned out to be rather intense. After about 500 interesting and sometimes confusing written questions and a one-on-one interview, the process was complete and I had to wait for the results. Two long days later I found out that I passed and was psychologically fit for duty.

Within a few days I was given a start date and found out that I would be the only firefighter/paramedic hired during this round, filling a vacancy created by a retirement. Even though I have eight years of experience at other fire departments, a two year probationary period is required to learn the specifics of how the Fremont Fire Department operates and serves the public.

Thus far I can say that I'm extremely happy here in Fremont and feel like I've found my home. I've already learned an immense amount from all the experienced firefighters, engineers, and captains at the Fremont Fire Department. This area and the opportunity to work with the Fremont Fire Department is so exciting that even though I have been offered a position with my previous employer - Reno Fire Department - I've decided to stay.

Next month you can read about my experiences at Station 1, the hub of the Fremont Fire Department.

Photo Caption:
Firefighter/Paramedic Jesse Miller Smith at Fremont Firehouse #5 in Warm Springs

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