Promotions … "Silly Season" is here, recruitment, retention and more!


First off, let me say thank you for the continued support. My last post, “You can’t teach Heart” was very well received and I appreciate it . It’s nice to know that I still have a few readers / followers out there.

I do need to clarify one thing though. I’ve received several e-mails, phone calls, messages etc following that post saying how good it is to have the “old” Captain Wines “back”. They say they are glad I’m past (or over) my grieving etc….and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I know I took you folks to some “dark” places over the last 4 months but I felt compelled to do so. I shared with you some of my thoughts’ feeling and lessons learned following my brother’s death by suicide. I tried to be as honest and open as possible.

Just because I’m a little more visible and posting on a more regular basis doesn’t mean I’m “past” or “over” anything. I NEVER will be. There’s a hole in my heart that will never be filled.

There’s not an hour that goes by that I don’t think of Jackson. The reminders are EVERYWHERE and I can’t hide or run from them. I’m slowly learning to embrace them but it’s hard.

I’m fighting depression every minute I’m awake and I still grieve his death. It’s getting better but, it’s been an uphill struggle. I never knew or understood what a horrible illness / disease depression was (is) before the events of December 30th.

I haven’t told ya in a while so I’ll remind you now that we are ALL “climbing”. We are ALL fighting demons of one sort or another. I’ll also remind you that we are NOT alone … there ARE folks out there who know and understand what we are going through and they stand ready to help us through whatever challenges we face.

If you’re like me and need someone to talk to or lean on, PLEASE try one of the links below …. there’s no shame in it. It’s working for me and it can for you too …

The Sweeney AllianceFirefighter Behavioral Health AllianceNorth American Firefighter Veteran Network,,   Recover from ,

Ok ….lets move on. So around where I work, it’s promotional testing time. That equates to “silly season” for me!

I call it that because everything required to participate in the process and because of all the “jockeying for position” that’s already started.

We will be testing for Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant, Captain, and Battalion Chief. There will also be a Deputy Chief of Operations appointed due to an upcoming retirement. As far as the other positions, we don’t even know how many are open yet (around here, it all depends on who’s counting).

Promotional testing can be one of the most stressful events of a firefighter’s career. Usually, there’s a huge reading list, hours upon hours of study (additional times away from family), the testing process itself and then the waiting game.

We have a written test to narrow the field of candidates (Lieutenant-Captain) followed by a practical portion. For the Lt. candidates, the practicals are made up of a 10 minute presentation (on the same subject / topic which is announced following the written test), a driving course / evaluation, a pumping evolution and an IMS / Fire scenario.

The 1st Lt., Captain and Battalion candidates will also face a fire / IMS scenario, a “problem employee” situation and a presentation. Battalion Chief candidates will work an “in basket” scenario instead of the presentation. Again …. all very stressful.

Rhett actually took his written test on Wednesday. He take the practicals next week.  Being that he is already a Lieutenant, he has the option to test for 1st Lt and / or Captain. He is testing for both.

GOOD LUCK to all of our candidates (at every level). As a Company Officer, I hope you’ll remember to take can of your members. If you do, you’ll have a long and enjoyable career. If you don’t …. LMAO … well lets just say that they can make you life hell.

That brings me to recruitment. I HATE that word. I guess it’s not so much the word as it is how many Departments go about it (“recruitment”). They’re doing it WRONG!!

I’ve always said that if someone has to come out looking for you, and then try to convince you that “this” is what you want to do or who you want to work for … THEN I DON’T WANT YOU.  We’re FIREFIGHTERS ….. we deal with lives not files, folders or boxes!

I hear of Departments complaining about a lowered number of applicants all the time. They look at all these “outside” reasons in search for a reason /solution and always miss the issues core.

To me, it’s an internal issue. An issue within that Department. In my opinion, it shows a lack of (or poor) leadership / management (or something along those lines). Either way, I’d bet that the members of that Department are NOT  happy. That’s sad because our MEMBERS are our best recruiters and it’s so easy to keep firefighters happy!

Think about it. When the members are happy, they reflect a positive image of their Department. When they’re out in the community and someone asks them about “what they do” or where / who they work for, a happy employee is eager to share that information and does so in a positive manner.

On the other hand, an unhappy or disgruntled employee’s response will most likely be “you don’t want to work here”…. OUR MEMBERS ARE OUR BEST RECRUITERS!

My good friend and Brother Tiger Schmittendorf is one of (if not “the”) our Nation’s top fire recruiters. He’s pictured on the far left in the photo above left (with Me, Rhett and Dave Statter). Tiger runs several web sites worth visiting and if you’re having recruitment issues / problems then he’s the man you want to see.

Visit Fire click HERE

I’m gonna stop here for now as I’m finding it difficult to focus.

We started our 4-day break Thursday morning and, later that evening; I decided to pull’s mobile headquarters down to the farm.

Once again I find myself setup by the creek and to be honest, my mind is more on the camp fire and a tall tottie than it is on writing right now.

I’ll try to check back in sometime this weekend either here or on my Face Book page.

Follow on Face Book click HERE

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines