Judgment and Reasoning for Firefighter Exam Study Guide (page 2)
This article will familiarize you with questions on the firefighter exam that test your judgment and reasoning ability. It shows you a systematic approach to answering these questions, using sample questions as examples.
Firefighters have to be able to make sound judgments under pressure: Lives can and do depend on it. Firefighters who react without thinking endanger themselves, their fellow firefighters, and the people they are trying to protect. Judgment and reasoning questions on a firefighter exam are designed to measure your ability to use reason in firefighting situations. Judgment and reasoning questions ask you to play the game "What if?" If you were a firefighter in a given situation, what would you do? The fire department wants to know whether, given a certain set of job-related conditions, you can think on your feet, follow directions, take orders from superiors, and interact with the public. To arrive at the correct answer to this kind of question, you have to analyze a situation and use good judgment and common sense to arrive at a course of action.
What Judgment and Reasoning Questions Are Like
Judgment and reasoning questions may be based on any number of different situations and are presented in varying formats. The following are examples of various kinds of judgment and reasoning questions as they may appear on the test.
- Firefighting operations. After a fire is extinguished, the water in the hose lines must be removed before the hose lines are repacked onto the fire truck. The best place to remove this water is.…
- Firehouse routines. Each shift, on arriving at the firehouse, performs a thorough inspection of the tools and equipment. Which of the following best expresses the reason for this procedure?
- Public relations. A man enters the firehouse and tells you he has locked his keys in the car with the ignition running. His puppy is in the car, and it is a very hot day. Which of the following should you do?
- Interpersonal skills. Your superior officer has asked you to give a car a summons for parking in a fire zone at a local shopping mall. When you get to the car, you recognize that it belongs to your neighbor. The best course of action for you to take is to.…
There may also be questions that test your ability to follow directions. You might, for instance, be given a list of procedures to follow in ventilating the roof of a fire building. You would then be given a situation in which a roof needs to be ventilated and be asked which step is the next one you should take, according to the procedure you read.
A Systematic Approach to Judgment Questions
To answer judgment and reasoning questions, use decision-making techniques to help you think through the best course of action. Use a systematic approach:
- Read the question more than once. Be sure you understand what is being asked. Look for and underline key words such as all, always, every, never, except, and not.
- Read all the answer choices. Eliminate answers intelligently. Use common sense to rule out the choices that cannot possibly be correct. Try to use the information from the question to select the correct answer. When faced with two or more answers that seem correct, try to select the one that is always correct rather than the one that is only sometimes correct. Look for answers that are opposite; there is a good chance that one of these is correct.
- Make a decision. After careful consideration, select the best possible choice.
- Reread the question. Make absolutely certain that the answer you have chosen satisfies all conditions of the question.
Watch for Tricky Wording
Use caution! There is more than one way to ask the same question, and the correct answer may depend on the way the question is worded. You might be asked to choose the best possible answer, but, on the other hand, you might instead be asked which choice is NOT correct or what would NOT be the best course of action. Each of these questions is based on the same situation, but choosing the correct answer depends on a careful reading of the way the question is worded:
- While you are on your way to work, you see a gasoline truck with fluid apparently leaking from the rear tank. You suspect that the leak is gasoline but are not certain.Which of the following actions is the most appropriate for you to take?
- While you are on your way to work, you see a gasoline truck with fluid apparently leaking from the rear tank. You suspect that the leak is gasoline but are not certain. You would be correct in doing all of the following EXCEPT.…
- While you are on your way to work, you see a gasoline truck with fluid apparently leaking from the rear tank. You suspect that the leak is gasoline but are not certain.Which of the following would NOT be the best course of action for you to take?
In the first version of this question, you are simply being asked to choose the best course of action. In the other two versions, however, you must choose the least appropriate action. In these cases, three out of four answer choices are likely to be actions that would be more or less appropriate, whereas another—the correct answer—will be an inappropriate, perhaps dangerous or careless, thing you might do.
Example: How to Use the Systematic Approach
This first sample question is followed by a step-by-step analysis that shows you how to use common sense and a systematic problem-solving approach to select the best possible answer. You might want to try working out the answer yourself before you read the explanation that follows.
- While on your way to work, you see flames shooting out a second-floor window of a six-story apartment building. What should you do?
- Immediately evacuate the building.
- Proceed to work and report the fire as soon as you get there.
- Ignore the fire because you are not yet on duty.
- Report the fire at the nearest phone and then try to evacuate the building.
Here's how to use the systematic approach to answer the question.
- Read the question carefully. What is the question asking? Stated simply, the question is asking, "What would you do if you saw a building on fire?"
- Read all the answer choices. Read and evaluate each answer choice, eliminating choices that are clearly wrong.
- "Immediately evacuate the building." Common sense tells you that getting the people out of a burning building is a good course of action. Your reaction may save the lives of the people inside the building. This sounds like a possible answer.
- "Proceed to work and report the fire as soon as you get there. "It is never a good idea to delay reporting a fire. There may be people who need help. Obviously this is not a good option, so eliminate it.
- "Ignore the fire because you are not yet on duty." A building fire should never be ignored. The fact that you are not on duty is irrelevant: As a firefighter, on or off duty, you are sworn to protect the public. Discard this option as well.
- "Report the fire at the nearest phone and then try to evacuate the building." Reporting the fire would bring help from other firefighters, as well as equipment for rescuing the occupants. After that, evacuating the building will save lives, due to your quick response and sure knowledge. This appears to be a very good choice.
- Make a decision. You eliminated options b and c. Now you should review choices a and d. They are very similar to each other, but choice d is the better answer because you are getting the proper help and equipment to the scene of the fire as well as trying to remove the residents from the building on fire. It is therefore the most correct answer.
- Reread the question. Once you have made a decision, review the question to make sure the answer you have chosen meets the conditions set out in the situation. Sure enough, choice d represents the best course of action for an off-duty firefighter who sees a building fire.
You will get more practice in using this kind of systematic approach as you read the sections that follow on the types of situations and questions you might encounter in a judgment and reasoning section of the firefighter exam.
Questions on Firefighting Operations
The most frequently asked questions require candidates to place themselves in the position of a firefighter at the scene of a fire or emergency. In answering a question of this type, you must consider a firefighter's priorities: saving lives, preserving property, and extinguishing the fire. In any emergency situation, the safety of responders and civilians is the first priority. All operations are conducted under the Incident Command System, which ensures a chain of command in which response is structured and measured.
Keep these priorities in mind as you try to answer these sample questions on firefighting operations.
- A fire company responds to a report of a multi-vehicle accident. When they arrive on the scene, they see that one car is turned upside-down with at least two civilians trapped inside. The other car seems to have less damage; however, it is leaking what appears to be gasoline. What should they do?
- Set up a hose line as a protection for rescue personnel and trapped civilians.
- Immediately remove the trapped civilians from their car.
- Disregard the gasoline, since nothing is currently on fire.
- Call for a tow truck.
Good judgment and common sense should enable you to eliminate choice c.You should also reject choice d, since it does not address the urgency of the situation. Choice b may be appealing at first; however, you should consider the whole situation. A gasoline leak always raises the possibility of a fire or an explosion, which could injure not only the people trapped in the car but also you and your fellow firefighters. The safety of all concerned should be your first priority. Keeping this principle in mind, you should eliminate choice b and pick a instead. Setting up a standby hose line, charged with water and ready to go, will protect the responders and the trapped civilians.
Now try another question, this one based on more routine operations. Remember, safety is still a firefighter's first concern.
- Firefighters must do inspections of any buildings, hospitals, factories, and schools in their area. They check the premises for any violations of fire safety regulations. All of the following should be checked for violations EXCEPT the
- automatic sprinkler system.
- electrical wires and outlets.
- fire extinguishers.
- food safety measures.
The first thing you should notice when you read the question is that word EXCEPT. It tells you to look for something that the firefighters will not check for violations as the answer.
The correct answer is choice d. The firefighters would check all of the other choices when they do an inspection, keeping in mind that people's safety can depend on the proper functioning of sprinkler systems, electrical wires and outlets, and fire extinguishers.
Questions on Firehouse Routine
If equipment that is used in fighting fires does not work properly, lives may be lost. Thus, firefighters have to check and maintain their equipment and apparatus, usually at the firehouse at the beginning of each shift. Some questions on the firefighter exam may ask questions about the routine of examining and maintaining equipment.
Even though the operations described in these questions are routine, the firefighter's priorities of life, property, and extinguishment, as well as safety and authority, are still paramount. For this reason, firefighters follow specific procedures in maintaining equipment and always replace damaged equipment or bring it to the attention of superior officers. Keeping that in mind, try to answer the following sample questions.
- At the beginning of each shift, the power saw must be filled with gasoline and tested to make sure it works properly. The best reason for this requirement is that it
- gives the firefighters something to do every day.
- makes the firefighters' job easier than if they waited until the tank was empty.
- ensures that the power saw is ready for maximum use if needed at a fire.
- ensures that the power saw is always ready for inspection by the fire chief.
You can eliminate choices a and b because they do not give good common sense reasons for this procedure. And while it is true that the chief may order an inspection of equipment at any time, choice d is not the best reason, either. That leaves choice c as the best answer. If a tool is not ready to be used on arrival at the scene of an emergency, people's lives may be at risk.
Try your hand at another question based on routine procedures.
- When a fire truck is leaving or returning to the firehouse, firefighters are required to stand on the street, one on the sidewalk and one inside the station. Which of the following is the most important reason for following this procedure?
- to let the neighbors know that the firefighters are leaving so that the neighbors will watch the station while they are gone
- to let pedestrians and automobiles know the truck is moving and to guide the truck's driver
- to test the truck's lights and sirens before leaving the station to make sure they work efficiently
- to give the firefighters time to get dressed and to show the neighborhood how their tax money is being used
You can eliminate choices a and d pretty quickly, because they do not use good judgment or common sense. Choice c looks a little better, but common sense should tell you that the moment the truck is leaving for a fire is not a good time to run an equipment check; anyway, the lights and siren shouldn't have to be checked every time the truck leaves or enters.
Choice b is the best answer. For their safety and the safety of others, firefighters stand outside in the street and on the sidewalk to warn motorists and pedestrians that the truck is in motion. The firefighter standing inside the firehouse helps to guide the truck's driver as the truck backs into the station.
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