2010 Firefighter Career Expo

What does it take to be a firefighter?

Hundreds of potential firefighter recruits had a chance to see for themselves at this year's Firefighter Career Expos held at Orange, Livermore and Sacramento CPAT Centers in October.

Sponsored by the California Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (CFFJAC) and its Commission to Recruit Women for the Fire Service, the Firefighter Career Expos are designed to give candidates - particularly women who may have never considered becoming a firefighter - an up close and personal look at a career with the fire service.

"The Firefighter Career Expos are a great way to get your foot in the door," said Alameda County female firefighter K.T. Erhardt, who met and was mentored by Alameda County Public Information Officer Aisha Knowles at the 2007 CFFJAC Firefighter Career Fair in Livermore. "I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't attended this event. I'm here this year in the hopes that I can help someone else in the same way."

Attendees had the chance to talk to professional career firefighters and fire department representatives like Erhardt, as well as try their hand at the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), the firefighter test which has become the industry standard.

"The CPAT is not easy, but it lets you know what you need to do to get in shape," said San Francisco resident Kate Hannigan, who wants to be a firefighter paramedic. Hannigan had the chance to throw ladders and carry heavy equipment - two of the eight events that comprise the CPAT - while receiving one-on-one guidance from firefighter proctors. Female and male proctors were on duty all day to show attendees how to take and pass the CPAT.

In addition, Expo attendees could tour fire apparatus on display, attend a video presentation about a day in the life of a firefighter and finish off the afternoon with a barbecue lunch and cold drink.

"Even in our down economy, we're always looking for qualified candidates to join our ranks," said CFFJAC Chair Dan Terry. "Our annual Firefighter Career Expos give us the opportunity to showcase our profession and inspire new recruits to consider this rewarding career path."