HomeCity NewsSMFD Hires Three New Firefighter/Paramedics

SMFD Hires Three New Firefighter/Paramedics

The San Marino Fire Department has added three new employees in recent months, bringing the number of firefighter/paramedics to 16.  

Robert Corral, Brent Sawyer and Alfonso Jimenez have been sworn in by Fire Chief Mario Rueda with hopes of soon adding two more employees to the roster. Rueda said that 18 is considered fully staffed.  

“What does it take to be a firefighter in San Marino?” Rueda asked. “This is one of the most frequently asked questions that the department receives from our residents. To become a firefighter/paramedic at the city of San Marino, it takes nearly 18 months of training and a complete battery of tests before they walk through the front door.” 

Rueda added that before a firefighter/paramedic candidate is considered for hire in San Marino, they must be a licensed paramedic and also possess proof of satisfactory completion of a fire academy that has been approved by the California State Fire Marshal. 

“That is just the start,” Rueda added. “Candidates must also provide proof of passing scores on the National Testing Network’s written examination and the California State Firefighter candidate physical agility test.” 

Once past the front door, firefighter/paramedic candidates participate in an oral interview and an emergency medical skills assessment.  

“Proficiency in emergency medical skills is very important in the San Marino Fire Department,” Rueda said. “If a candidate is successful in this process, they are scheduled for an interview with the fire chief.” 

A firefighter/paramedic candidate is then placed on the SMFD’s eligibility list.  

“If a candidate is selected from the list for hire, they are then subject to rigorous medical, psychological and public-safety background examinations,” the chief said. “The process is not for the faint of heart.”  

The successful candidate is then fitted for both station uniforms and safety gear. “Onboarding is costly, but necessary, to ensure the new firefighter/paramedic is mentally and physically prepared to work for our city,” Rueda said. 

One of the biggest challenges for the SMFD’s training officers is to ensure that new probationary firefighter/paramedics are trained to current Los Angeles County Paramedic protocols and San Marino Fire Department standards as quickly as possible.    

“The San Marino Fire Department conducts a two-week training and orientation to start to on board and socialize new employees,” Rueda said.  

“The fire department does not have a San Marino fire academy like many large organizations. As a result, the training is primarily ‘on the job’, and takes up much of the new firefighter/paramedic’s first year,” he added. 

The probationary period is one year of rigorous daily training and drills designed to ensure a consistent, safe and effective performance by firefighter/paramedic, Rueda said.  

“Most of these shifts are dedicated to instruction, training, testing and responding to emergency calls. The new firefighter/paramedics are taught to become technically the best they can be,” he said. 

However, one of the most important aspects of training and socialization of the new firefighter/paramedics is teaching the manner in which they treat residents, when they may be experiencing the worst day of their lives and need help.   

“Care and compassion toward patients, family members and residents is one of the most important areas that is taught, trained to and evaluated. It is often referred to as treating people the ‘San Marino Way.’ Our residents may not remember what our firefighter/paramedics did to help during their hour of need, but they always remember how we made them feel” Rueda said. 

“Tenured firefighter/paramedics) provide the best service and definitely offer an example for new hires to emulate. The captains and tenured firefighter/paramedics put in countless hours into ensuring each new member is trained to a standard expected by the Fire Department and our residents,” he added. 

After one year, the probationary firefighter/paramedics has completed 120 shifts, prepared and given drills in both paramedic and firefighting disciplines, rotated between the three shifts, been evaluated by three captains and responded to numerous emergency responses.  

They also have participated in the community at numerous events, meetings and school district functions. 

“They will then have become accepted members of the fire department,” Rueda added. 

Even after extensive screening and training, not all new hires are successful in the process. “Only two employees hired in the last three years have successfully completed 12 months of probation,” Rueda said. “One employee has recently entered their 10th month of probation and is performing well. In the current job market, ensuring well-trained firefighter/paramedics has been a challenge.”  

A considerable amount of time, effort, and money is spent on a new employee, and, in some circumstances, only to have to start the process all over again.  

“For those firefighter/paramedics that do stay and work in our City, San Marino is a great community to serve and a great place to work,” Rueda said. 

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