APPENDIX B. Defining Critical Firefighter Tasks, Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other Characteristics

A job analysis is a systematic examination of the tasks or activities that individuals perform as part of their job, including the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) needed to be successful in the job (Brannick, Levine, and Morgeson, 2007). Information from a job analysis serves as the foundation for many different aspects of personnel management, including the development of an effective selection system.[1] By helping identify the individual characteristics or attributes that are most likely to predict success on the job, an organization can then design a selection system that assesses the extent to which job candidates possess those specific attributes. Job analysis information is also critical from a legal defensibility standpoint if selection practices are challenged in court, because such information can enable an employer to demonstrate that a particular test or assessment method does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. For example, if a test or assessment method results in a protected group being hired at a significantly lower rate, such as fewer women being selected relative to men, the employer must be able to provide evidence that the test or assessment method is job-related.

Existing LAFD Job Analyses

Because the 1994 and 2010 job analyses were so thorough, we believe that there is a solid foundation already in place with which to develop a sound selection system for LAFD firefighters. The 1994 job analysis study focused on identifying all tasks performed by firefighters assigned to engine companies and task forces, including basic firefighter competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities that recruits need to possess. Based on this 1994 job analysis, the Personnel Department hired a private-sector firm to conduct a more detailed and updated job analysis in 2010. In the 2010 job analysis, researchers convened a panel of subject-matter experts consisting of battalion chiefs and fire captains, who reviewed and confirmed, with minor exceptions, the tasks and competencies already outlined in the 1994 report. The researchers then conducted a survey of a broader sample of subject-matter experts to establish the tasks and competencies most important on the job, including those most needed at the start of the job. Following the survey, additional subject-matter expert participation helped to further assess which competencies were needed to perform which tasks.

Overall, the job analysis identified 18 different overarching job duties (each with separate subtasks), ranging from ladder operations and sizing up a fire scene to emergency response and community relations. The analysis also identified eight overarching groups of competencies (each with separate subcompetencies) that were required to varying degrees to perform each of the job duties. These competency groups ranged from more general cognitive abilities and thinking and reasoning skills to written and oral communication, interpersonal skills, and physical abilities.

  • [1] For more information see Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc., 2003.
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