Memory and Visualization Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's Firefighter Exams (page 2)
Firefighter exams test the candidate's ability to memorize and recall information and to visualize and analyze information. In typical memorization questions, the candidate is presented with a fireground pictorial scene to be studied for a short period of time, generally three to five minutes. Then, the pictorial is taken away and the test taker is asked questions about the scene. In visualization questions, the candidate is asked to view maps, sketches, and drawings and then to analyze the information shown to answer directional or orientation perspective questions.
In some memorization questions a building or row of buildings of different heights and dimensions fronting on one or more streets or avenues is shown. A fire scenario is usually depicted through the roof or inside a window and people are shown in distress in various parts of the building. A legend is usually provided to explain what some of the important symbols (occupants, victims, staircase, doorways, windows, fire escape, detectors, fire hydrant, fire department connection, alarm box) represent. Firefighters, fire apparatus, fire suppression systems (sprinkler and standpipe systems), infrastructure (telephone poles, electrical lines, lamp posts, and traffic lights), pedestrians, compass directions, and wind direction and speed may also be included in the pictorial.
Other memory problems involve studying building layouts and apartment floor plans. Key features to focus on when looking at building layouts is the numbering and lettering system used to denote floors, apartments, stairways, and elevator banks. Also note surrounding properties, entrances and exits, fire escapes, roof obstructions, security gates or window bars, and fire hydrants. When looking at a fire situation superimposed on an apartment floor layout, look for people or victims inside the apartment and try to determine the best way for firefighters to rescue the trapped occupants—through windows, an entrance door, or stairs. Also note in what room the fire is located, the sequence of rooms, where smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are located, if and where there are fire escapes, and any secondary access and egress routes. It is helpful to become familiar with typical building layouts and floor plans such as access roadways, parking lots, courtyards, hallways, elevator banks, staircases, doorways, passageways, foyers, closets, kitchen fixtures, etc. Architecture and building construction books can be helpful in doing this.
Some visualization questions involve the use of maps and roadway grids in an urban setting. The candidate is allowed to use the schematic when answering the questions. Various structures and occupancies, including the local firehouse, are usually marked on the schematic. Generally, questions involve situations requiring a fire apparatus to leave the firehouse and get from point A to point B quickly and without breaking any traffic laws, but some questions will involve a response to a structure or occupancy while the firefighters are out of the firehouse.
The first thing the candidate should look for is the directional indicator on the map or road grid. Most times, north will be drawn at the top of the page, but not always, and you may have to rotate the map or grid to get a better understanding of the directions. Remember, once you locate north you then know all other directions. Street direction will normally be denoted by arrows.
Visualization questions also examine how well you can orient yourself to seeing objects and structures from different observational positions (rear, side, interior, aerial). Note the spatial relationship between windows and doors when studying a structure. Are the windows above, below, or even with the top of the door? Look at the shape of all exterior components. How many panes do the windows have? Are the panes square or rectangular? Is there an even number of windows on both sides of the door? Is the door situated in the middle of the structure or off to the right or left side? Is the doorknob located on the right or left side? Examine roof design and projections and where they are located. Review the surrounding properties and grounds (carport, garage, fences). What is their spatial relationship to the main structure?
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