The El Dorado police and fire departments are gearing up for spring civil service exams, and the fire department is kicking things off today with the first of two scheduled physical agility tests (PATs).
Written and oral exams for new-hires and promotional candidates in both departments will begin April 3.
The police department will also conduct its physical training exam in early April.
The fire department has scheduled two PATs, starting today. The next will be held March 18.
The EFD is looking to fill four positions and so far, approximately 10 applications have been submitted, EFD Chief Mosby said.
The deadline is 4 p.m. March 26 to submit an application in order take spring civil service exams for the fire department.
Candidates who have already completed and submitted applications will have the opportunity to take their PAT today or March 18.
Mosby said the EFD will make arrangements for additional PATs for applicants who submit their paperwork by the March 26 deadline.
Candidates who participate in the PAT today will be able to use the experience as a "practice run," said Mosby.
"If they want to come in and see what it's all about, they can. If they don't want to take it today and they only want to take a portion of it, they can do that. We'll work with them," the fire chief said.
"If they pass it, it counts. If they don't, they can take it again ... and they'll ultimately have to pass it," he explained further.
To assess their fitness for duty as a firefighter, candidates who participate in the PAT will have to successfully complete simulations of the 13 essential job tasks that are listed in the National Fire Protection Association's 1582 standards.
The PATs include climbing stairs, crawling, rolling and unrolling water hoses, dragging hoses, swinging a sledge hammer and simulating rescues with weighted dummies.
The PAT, including all of the tasks, must be completed within 12 minutes, Mosby said.
"The hose-drag is probably one of the more difficult tests because you have to drag around objects, simulating dragging a hose around a structure," the fire chief said.
"They'll have to swing a sledge hammer to simulate forcible entry," he continued.
Offering more than one PAT and conducting the test on Saturday is a part of an effort by the EFD to accommodate the daily lives and schedules of candidates, who often have other jobs.
The fire department is also holding its written exams and oral interviews for entry-level candidates on the same day, April 3.
Written exams will begin at 6 p.m. in the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, 100 W. Eighth.
Oral interviews will follow, Mosby said.
"As soon as we get done with the written tests, we're going to run on to the interview panel and that's really the area where people at the fire department can sit and have a real conversation with the applicants and make sure they will excel in public-safety (service)," Mosby said, adding, "Years ago, you had to set up three different times to go through the hiring process."
Entry-level candidates for the EFD must be 18-34 years old.
State civil service laws were amended a few years ago to lower the minimum age from 21 to 18 for firefighters.
Mosby said the amendment has helped the EFD in recruiting younger candidates and led to an increase in applications.
"I can't say that we're hiring more or less people that fall into that age group but we have hired a few young men that are under 21 that have been outstanding employees and continue to be outstanding employees for the fire department," he said.
He said the EFD spent the day Friday at a high-school job fair in Smackover and the department hopes its presence at the job fair will help to increase applications for the spring civil service exams.
"We've got men and women at high schools graduating in May. We do allow them to take the test. Even though they won't graduate until after the testing cycle, they can test to be on the eligibility list," Mosby said.
For more information or to request an application, call the EFD at 870-881-4855 or visit the EFD Facebook page.
El Dorado police Chief Kenny Hickman said the department is looking to fill six vacancies with the spring civil service exams.
Applications are due by 4 p.m. March 31.
Written exams will begin at 6 p.m. on April 3 in the municipal auditorium.
Hickman said five applications for entry-level candidates have gone out and/or have been returned so far and the EPD is hoping submissions will pick up as the deadline nears.
New-hire candidates must be 21 years old, physically fit and hold a high school diploma or GED.
They must also be able to pass a background check, psychological evaluation and be willing to work nights, weekends, holidays and rotating shifts.
Candidates with military experience must present a DD214 certificate for honorable release or discharge from active duty.
Hickman noted that the written exam is a "basic aptitude test."
"You don't have to know police work, just basic reading comprehension and word usage -- skills that are basic for police work because we do a lot of writing and reporting -- and some math," Hickman explained. "There's nothing there that shouldn't look familiar to someone with a high school education."
Candidates must score at least 70 percent to pass the written exam and move on to the physical training and oral interview portions of the civil service test.
There is no minimum requirement for the physical training test, Hickman said, explaining that the PT simply assesses physical fitness with a 300-meter run, a mile-and-a-half run, push-ups and sit-ups.
Oral interviews are pass or fail tests.
PT tests and oral interviews will be held the day after the written exams.
Candidates who are hired for entry-level positions undergo 25 weeks of training, 13 at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in East Camden and 12 with an EPD field training officer (FTO).
"You ride with a field training officer for 12 weeks and you pass in phases as that FTO (progressively) doles out responsibilities," said Hickman.
"Then, he will shadow you by following you on calls in his patrol car. Our responsibility is to give our people the tools they need to do the job," he continued. "We do our best to equip our officers with everything they need when they go into the streets."
A common misconception about the civil service exams is that they are paid exams.
"No, they are absolutely free and you get a study guide when you sign up," said Hickman.
Mosby said a study guide is available for purchase for the written, EFD exams but the guide is optional.
Both chiefs said they are looking for a good turnout for spring tests and that applicants successfully pass all phases of the civil service exams to become eligible to work for the departments for which they tested.
Candidates who are already certified as firefighters and law enforcement officers and do not have to take the civil service exam may apply for either department any time.
For more information or to request an application for the police department, visit the EPD Facebook page or website at www.eldoradopolice.org.
Also call 870-881-4800 or send an email to Lt. Andrew Russell at [email protected]