Moving up the ladder

Moving up the ladder

Thousands of applicants expected to take written exam for handful of spots with Pasadena Fire Department 

By André Coleman 08/15/2013

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More than 4,000 people are expected to pour into Pasadena Monday to take the written test for a handful of firefighter trainee positions. 
 
The department will hold two sessions for the written exams at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center. 

“We are not sure exactly how many spots are open,” said Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian. “We have had several lateral promotions within the department. I would say we have 10 positions open, or less. It is extremely competitive. We have had several retirements in the last several years, and a lot of other departments are seeing the same thing.”

The Pasadena Fire Department has not hired trainees since the city imposed a hiring freeze in 2009, shortly after the start of the Great Recession.

Top scorers will be interviewed again in several weeks. Top candidates from those sessions will then have a one-on-one interview with Pasadena Fire Chief Calvin Wells. Applicants will be asked to undergo a background check before they are hired. 

According to a job description provided by the city, a trainee makes a monthly salary of $4,121, with no medical benefits provided during his or her four-month training period. Upon graduation, trainees will be classified as Firefighter I’s and could make anywhere between $4,222 and $5,297 a month. The Firefighter I position carries benefits and includes an 18-month probation period. The salary is increased to $5,754 after the 18-month probation period ends.

The Pasadena Fire Department has 153 of its 180 full-time employees on active duty. The remaining 27 employees work in administrative posts. 
According to Derderian, positions with the Pasadena department are highly sought after because there is a strong chance for advancement and overtime pay.

“Some of the firefighters we hired back in 2009 have already started to move up in the ranks of the department,” she said. “There is always the chance of overtime because of the activities at the Rose Bowl and special events.” 

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