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Test of Courage



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Jeff Bailon
Los Angeles, CA

Frank Tijiboy, one of the firefighters profiled in this upcoming story ismy brother in law. I watched him every step of the way in his journey tobecome a firefighter. From being a young 15 year old street kid tobecoming the model citizen and hero he is today is a transformation forthe story books. I only hope the documentary can vividly demonstrate whatthese young hopefuls have to endure and sacrifice to become firefighters.

Neil Velasco
Roslyn Heights, NY

I am a 19 year old Filipino-American and am the first "non-white" in myfire company. I really enjoyed watching your show and could relate verywell with the themes and issues. I have been in the fire service for oneyear and three months. Shortly after I joined, the first femalefirefighter joined our fire company.

Our fire company has been around since 1910. Myself and the femalefirefigher joined in 1999. Long time, huh? :)

I have one problem with your website though. It is understandable thatbecause you used the Oakland Fire Department, a paid/career firedepartment, that the show would lead one to expect that all firefightersare paid/career. I went online expecting clarification on this issue butfailed to find it.

Many people are shocked when I present them with this figure: About804,000 of the more than 1 million firefighters nationwide are volunteers.

Kyle Lavender
Woods Cross Ut, 84087

I work fulltime for Salt Lake City fire, a professional medium sizedepartment of approx. 350 combat firefighters. For the last 3 years, mypartner has been a female with 15 years on the job. I must say that I'venever been worried about her ability to perform the job.
To me, that's the true test- being able to perform the stated job. Itdoesn't matter if you're male or female, as long as you can protect thecitizens that you're expected to serve.
When I was in recruit school, there was a candidate from California whohad moved here to apply because he was told by two differant Californiadepartments that they wouldn't be hiring any white men for the next twoyears until they had the right percentages. I don't know if it's true ornot but I would hope that no profession would exclude somebody that wasqualified based purely on race, color or creed. Perhaps some day we cancall each other Americans rather than White-Americans or African-Americansor Asian-Americans. I hope one day we can lose the hyphen and live andwork together productivly.

Don M. Torres
Brentwood, CA

I thank you for choosing a topic that my friends and I can very muchrelate to. I personally spent three years "testing" for the job ofFirefighter. I am anxiously awaiting to see if the movie accuratelydepicts the challenges I faced when I was in the testing process.

I also feel there is a strong need for diversity in the Fire Service. Asa working Firefighter in the Bay Area, I have realized that the culturalbackground of your local firehouse should closely reflect the populationit serves.

San Leandro

I found the documentary to be informative and interesting. When you talkto the fire fighters they seem like you're average person however afterseeing the documentary you see all the non ordinary things that they haveto go through. Risking their lives every day to help other people...putting other poeple first. It takes a true hero to do that... I wouldlike to say thanks to all the fire fighters out there who risk theirfuture for people like me.

Daniel Green
Santa Clara, California

I can't wait to see "Test Of Courage" on Monday. I can relate to thisfilm as I have lived it from both side of the looking glass. In fact Ihad always wanted to do this film. And now I have the opportunity to seefrom the filmmaker's eyes the life many of us lived as candidates and thelife we are living now as firefighters. I have not seen the film yet, butI hope that in the future you take it a step farther and show the life ofthe "energizer bunnies" (test takers) as they travel from city to cityliving out of their cars and cheap hotels. I think that Mr. Dunham is aperfect example of this. You could show the highs, lows, setbacks, andnear misses that are experienced by the candidates and their families. What can also be shown is the cost and toll the testing experience has onloved ones. The cost at times is high, such as missed birthdays, timeaway from home, days away from work with out pay, all these things are put before the alter of the "fire gods" in the hope that someday they getthe badge.

Update:P.S. I saw the! we were at the fire station and we all thoughtthat it was right on!...good job!


I am a firefighter in a small to medium size Mid-Western city. I saw yourdocumentary and liked it. It really showed what many people go through tobecome a firefighter; how hard it is and how intoxicating it can be. Iwish the documentary was longer.

I thought the tilt on diversity was interesting. I support diversity inthe workplace too, but not when you change the physical ability test toallow individuals to pass who normally wouldn't. Fire's don'tdiscriminate; they won't burn less severely just because a woman isresponding. Case in point: our department recently hired a femalefirefighter. She barely passed the physical test, and this was in her topshape since she had trained and dieted prior to the test. And she hasgained back all the wieght she lost for the test, making her lessphysically able to perform the duties now than when she barely couldearlier. Now she is hired but can't perform many of the physical functionsrequired on a fire a scene. She can't pull cieling for overhaul, hastrouble pulling 5" hose, can't pull the cord hard enough on the chain sawto start it. Yet the administration probably won't cut her during herprobation period for fear of a lawsuit. It is unfair to all thePHYSICALLY QUALIFIED applicants that got passed up.

Laura Hayes
Youngstown, Fl.

I joined Bear Creek/Youngstown VFD 9 years ago. I am very lucky. Thisorganization took me in and treated me fairly from day 1. During thistime, I saw other females be ostracized at the departments they joined,men not wanting to work with women. I am pleased to say that in those 9years, these men have seen the light. Women firefighters are more commonin this county now, without all of the hassles they used to receive.We nowhave 5 female members in our department, and we are an integral part ofthis organization! Bless those of you who have met a female firefighterand treated her fairly!
Laura Hayes / Asst. Chief B

Vivian Price
Long Beach CA

I look forward to seeing this movie- but I have a problem with the quoteschosen for this website. Your white male makes it sound like it isimpossible for a white male to get into firefighting, which is a commenttaken out of context of reality. One look at most firefighting forces willtell you who is still in the majority.Doesn't this particular quote feed into supporting the idea that reverseracism exists, when in fact, a white male still has quite enormousleverage in this society?

Juno, Alaska

This looks like a really cool film. I can't wait to see it! I didn'trealize that it was so hard to become a fire fighter. That test wasn'tthat easy. I think that men and women probably have to train real hard todo the physical and study hard for the written tests. Fire men and womenare definitely heroes!!!!

Seren Larrance
San Francisco, CA

I think diversity in the workforce is very important, and correcting the wrongs of the past (white male domination in many parts of our culture) may require certain preferences for, or at least active encouragement of women and minorities. It sounds like these groups are still fighting an uphill battle in fire service.

And, in terms of leveling the playing field, I was very surprised to read that the physical agility test is no different for women than it is for men. I think a lot of people assume that women are asked to carry less weight and allowed to run slower than men being tested.

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