Cal-JAC Career Expos

Annual career expos bring hundreds of candidates to FCTC facilities across California

In virtually every corner of the state, the Cal-JAC’s Firefighter Career Expos are working to introduce a new generation of young adults to the fire service. 

This past year, a total of four expos drew more than 1,000 motivated candidates to one of the Cal-JAC’s Firefighter Candidate Testing Center facilities. In the spring, expos were held in Northern California, with events in Livermore and Sacramento each hundreds of candidates to meet with recruiters from more than a dozen departments. In the fall, candidates in Southern California were given their chance, when expos were held at FCTC’s location in San Diego, as well as at the brand new facility in South El Monte, just outside of the city of Los Angeles.

“The firefighter career expos present an opportunity for motivated, young candidates to meet with the recruiters who are looking for the next generation,” said Yvonne de la Pena, executive director of the Cal-JAC. “Being able to hold multiple events, in different regions of the states, helps ensure that communities across the state can benefit from these events.”

Throughout the day, expo attendees were given the opportunity to try their hand at the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), which measures the capabilities of firefighting recruits along eight job-specific areas. Candidates also met with recruiters, were given an idea of what to expect on the written test and had the opportunity to find out more about “A Day in the Life of a Firefighter.” 

As in years past, the expos provide an opportunity to recruit traditionally underrepresented communities into the fire service, specifically women and ethnic minorities. 

 “We want women to understand that this is a great career path,” said Melissa Mohilla, a firefighter with the San Diego Federal Fire Department and member of the Cal-JAC’s Women’s Commission. “The profession needs people with drive, determination and ability. If you have what it takes, nothing should stand in your way.”

Having been run for nearly a decade, several past attendees of Cal-JAC’s career expos have gone on to be hired by California fire departments, further proof that attending an expo can represent the first in someone’s fire service career.

“Firefighting is a rewarding and demanding profession, but it’s not for everybody,” said Cal-JAC Chair Dan Terry. “Young people who think they’ve ‘got what it takes,’ can take the first steps by attending.”