Understanding the Firefighter Hiring Process

By Stacy L. Bell, Lindsay Rock, Tracey Biscontini

Part of Firefighter Exam For Dummies Cheat Sheet

After filling out an initial application for a firefighting job, candidates vying for a position within a fire department can expect to take several qualifying exams. To be hired as a firefighter, you must pass all these tests, exams, and interviews. The following table outlines the types of exams and gives you a general overview of what to expect during each exam:

Exam Type What to Expect
Written Exam An exam featuring multiple-choice questions in a variety of
subject areas; it lasts at least 2.5 hours
Physical Ability Test Typically a timed exam that assesses candidates’ physical
fitness, including strength, endurance, and flexibility, to ensure
that they’re physically capable to begin a fire training
Oral Interview An interview with a hiring panel that may include fire
department leaders, local government representatives, and local
Medical Exam A complete physical performed by a certified physician to check
candidates for a variety of medical conditions and to ensure that
they’re healthy enough to train to become firefighters
Psychological Evaluation A personality questionnaire and/or an interview with a
psychologist or psychiatrist to ensure that candidates can mentally
handle the stress of firefighting