All aspiring firefighters will be taking the requisite FDNY entrance exam, but many will not get the high scores that are necessary to be considered for NYC’s bravest. To help prepare applicants, the Vulcan Society, a black firefighters’ organization, held a test prep course on Saturday at the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle Church in South Jamaica.
Vulcan Society classes cater to minority applicants, but are not exclusive to them. At this class there were a handful of white students.
“We are trying to bring more black and people of color to this job,” Paul Washington, immediate past president of the Vulcan Society and teacher, told the class.
Over 70 students, mostly black, attended to get tips, advice and an idea of what questions could be potentially asked on the test.
Washington made it clear to the attendees that no one knows the exact questions that will be asked.
Before he talked about the test, he discussed the benefits that came with the career.
“I can’t convey to you how good this job is,” Washington told the class. “It is a great job.”
He praised the salary, the job security and the public service that being a firefighter brings to the community.
Washington said that he would go over different parts of the test, which include three videos, background information survey questions, reading comprehension and math.
“We feel that the background information questions are going to be the most important part,” he said.
Washington pointed out it could be weighed the most, relative to other portions of the test.
He showed the class four different video segments, one focusing on constructing a greenhouse, storing food and grooming a dog.
Washington said that the test will have similar videos and that they may not even have to do with firefighting.
The class then answered multiple choice questions related to the videos.
After Washington had finished going over one of the videos, he introduced veteran firefighter Bruce Stanley, who told the class not only about the test but in a surprise twist, registering to vote.
“If things continue to go the way they’re going around the world, you may be drafted,” he warned.
Stanley did keep on topic urging the applicants to study hard. “From this day until you take your exams do nothing but study for this test,” he said. “It’s going to be very competitive.”
At the end of the class, Washington gave general tips including getting a good night’s sleep and having a good breakfast.
Jarrett Mathurin-Neville, an 18-year-old student from Harlem, said that he will be taking the test and was looking for any advantage he could get. “I heard it was a really good opportunity to get ahead,” he said, “as much prep that I could get for a course especially for one that’s so competitive would be best.”