Feb. 24: Fire Alumni Hosts Firefighter Workshop


firefighter aluni

For those with aspirations of becoming a firefighter, Fire Alumni is hosting the perfect event for you as the 5th Annual Firefighter Workshop will be held on February 24 at Las Positas College in Livermore between 8-5pm

The event will highlight what Chiefs and those within the Fire Districts are looking for in candidates. They will share their best practices, knowledge and dedication to the arena and this will allow attendees who attend the perspective needed so they can avoid the pitfalls during the hiring process.

The event was founded by East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Brian Helmick and Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Bob Atlas along with Engineer Judon Cherry five years ago.

“Fire Alumni was created with the goal of taking the mystery out of the entry level hiring process and help highlight the path to a career in fire services,” said Helmick. “The Workshop helps potential candidates confirm they want to be in the service while also lets people know it may not be for them.”

Helmick explained that in its simplest form, Fire Alumni is a “public service” created out of ROP which taught 90-students. A lot of those students wanted advice outside of the classroom about the process of getting hired. After many students echoed the same questions and concerns outside of the classroom, Fire Alumni was created.

“Bob Atlas and I would go through the process from start to finish on getting hired. We identified the type of candidates districts are looking for and mentored candidates to help enhance a candidates chance of entering the fire world. The other side of this was to give Districts better candidates to choose from,” said Helmick.

He was quick to point out this workshop was not created to simply pass a test, but rather trying to help identify where and how to document and communicate with fire personal during the hiring process.

He admitted this was an eye opening day that even if a candidate decides fire is not for them, they can carry over these skills to other industry during the hiring process.

“If we can help prepare candidates for the job and not to just pass a test and entrance materials, but instead focus on the job, personal qualities, moral fiber the job requires, later on we can pass onto them how to pass an interview. We want good people to start,” explained Atlas. “When they understand the expectations to the hiring process, then we would have better people online sooner—that’s what it’s all about.”

For some firefighters, the hiring process could be 2-6 years with all the education, Atlas explained how this could cut it to less than 2-years since expectations are known ahead of time.

Both Helmick and Atlas agreed that anyone can pass a test, their goal is to simply get those in attendance into the right mindset of being a firefighter—not just do the job for financial gain, but do so because you want to put the community first and serve your community.  They want candidates who are vested in the community.

“I look at it this way, I’m going retire one day and they will come to my house, my family, my parents, friends… who do I want to help my parents or me? I want people like me who care. Not someone who wants a 6-figure salary,” explained Atlas.

The workshop will feature Tanya Hoover, California State Fire Marshal, who was appointed State Fire Marshal by Governor Edmund G. Brown on November 21, 2011 after serving as Acting State Fire Marshal since July 1, 2009. She was appointed and served as the Assistant State Fire Marshal from September 4, 2007. Chief Hoover has been actively involved in Fire Prevention, Public Education and Risk Mitigation for more than 20 years; and served as the Fire Marshal for the Moraga-Orinda Fire District located east of the Oakland/Berkeley hills.

Another special guest speaker includes Paul Lepore, Division Chief from the Redondo Beach Fire Department. Chief Lepore is a currently a shift Division Chief for a Southern California Fire Department where he is assigned to manage the Special Services Division. In addition to managing the emergency responses for the City, his responsibilities include managing the EMS Division, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and the CERT program.  Prior to his current position, Chief Lepore spent 23 years on the Long Beach Fire Department having promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief.

“Consider us tutors for a future in fire services. The speakers are not just anybody,  they are credible and subject matter experts,” said Helmick. “They will tell you what they expect and what they are looking for in candidates.”

Atlas echoed Helmicks comments, but wanted to ensure people were also aware of the networking of this event.

“During the breaks, lunch, after the event, candidates shake hands with people that are making the decisions in the oral interviews and running physical agility test, reviewing resumes. You’re talking to people who make direct decisions and have input,” said Atlas. “You never know where a conversation will lead six months from now in a chief’s interview. The candidate has all that info in their bag. Its priceless. “

He gave an example of how one candidate was in a Chiefs interview and was asked “Why should we hire you over the other guy,” he explained that when he met him 6-months ago at the Workshop and had worked on mastering the skills required for the Department.

“Seeing the guys make those relationship bridges is what it’s all about. To see the light bulb go on of what is expected and that we have taken mystery in the hiring process is a good feeling,” said Atlas. “We want candidates to do well in the process. When they are not worrying about the process, they can focus on how to do better in the process. “

Fire Alumni has worked with over 1,000 candidates during its first four years and this year will set milestones for candidates served—last year, they had candidates all the way from Utah attend.  They provide the playbook for what they are looking for and are honest about it.

“Consider us tutors for a future in fire services. The speakers are not just anybody because they are credible and subject matter experts,” said Helmick.

When & Where

February 24, 2013 at from 8-5 pm
Las Positas College
“Mertes Center for the Arts
3000 Campus Hill Drive
Livermore, CA


  • Being the Ideal Candidate
  • Preparation for the Job
  • Education
  • Chiefs Interviews
  • How to Remain Motivated
  • Technology in the Hiring Process
  • Application and Resume Development
  • Discipline and Accountability
  • Changing Paradigms
  • Written Exam Prep
  • The Playbook

Register online:

Firefightr Workshop 2013

Fire Alumni Website


  1. Where was this 20 years ago? I might have been a little more successful in my life.

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