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Local president files grievance against Austin Fire Department

The president of the Austin Firefighters Association has filed a grievance over hiring issues with the Austin Fire Department.

Bob Nicks, president and a battalion chief, filed a grievance December 29.

The Austin Fire Department judges potential candidates on the following criteria: intelligence and psychological attributes, work place behavior and integrity.

Each applicant is interviewed in person.

The Austin local has several concerns with the hiring process, including combining the intelligence and psychological exams into one test. The union says it could skewer how fire fighters are hired. In addition, Austin Local 975 says that applicants should be video-taped to help work against any perceived bias of those sitting on interviews.

Nicks tells Austin’s News 8, “The problem with this is that you could score very high on the psychological and very low on the cognitive, lower than what you need for minimum competency, and still pass through just like anybody else.”

Austin is looking to hire a record number of fire fighters this year.


Nicks says "The Austin Fire Department will be replacing over 10% of our department over the next year and we have over 5500 applicants. We have an opportunity here to achieve two very important goals; hire the best of the best and increase diversity. We have witnessed in other major fire departments “best practice” hiring processes that have been able to accomplish both of these goals, unfortunately the Fire Chief has decided to deviate from standards just to get numbers. "

Comments (1) -

  • Van Tomokiyo (Hawaiian Islands)

    1/11/2011 3:14:40 AM |

    The interview process should extend to separate rooms for the candidate, and individual rooms for the interviewers. They were all connected via video cameras. The candidates body could be seen, but without the faces. Names should be eliminated and candidates be given numbers only as identification. The separation of all individuals would keep the biases to a minimum. The inability to see a face would help to prevent ethnic discrimination. The interviewers being separated would keep comparison of scores and 'collusion' to a minimum. A third party would keep the interviewers from not asking any questions that were not on a preset number of interview questions.

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