Passing firefighter tests – Preparing for interviews, and getting hired as a firefighter
Marines battle a huge blaze during a pit fuel fire training exercise at the burn pit on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. Original public domain image from Flickr

Firefighting is a noble vocation needing power, honor, and sacrifice of those called to this line of work. Even if you are certain you have what it takes to enter this elite profession, beginning a vocation as a firefighter may seem like a perplexing and cloudy process but there are some things you can do to simplify the process. Here are a few tips to save yourself time, money, and effort and help you get the job you’re seeking.

The most significant first step to take is to communicate with the fire department where you want to work. Different states, districts, and agencies have different requirements to become a firefighter. Inquire what your local fire department requires, what the application process is like, and what they prefer to see in an applicant. Numerous fire departments will have requirements for higher education or certifications, and if not required they can you more attractive as an applicant.

Nearly every fire department in the USA requires its firefighters to have a high school diploma or GED. Many more departments want to see an applicant with some higher learning or experience. In many cases, a degree in an associated area like Fire Science or certification as a Paramedic can help you get into the hiring pool or to the top of the applicant list. The degree itself may help later with promotions and other advancements once you’ve been working as a firefighter. 

For first-time applicants, the most intimidating part of the hiring process can be the written test, typically the first step after the application. For some agencies, the written test includes firefighting knowledge such as fire suppression, prevention, and fire behavior. Some tests may be written, others oral, and they can assess a candidates’ proficiency to memorize or retain information and instructions, listen to directions, and process rudimentary math. For any topic the test covers it is important to give yourself sufficient time to learn the material and prepare for the exam. Practicing taking tests can help reduce stress and test anxiety on test day.

Physical ability assessments can be strenuous, requiring a great deal of power and stamina. Even a relatively fit person may find it very difficult to complete these tests without a proper training program ahead of time. Start physical training early to give yourself the time to adapt and build your fitness level.

Getting an education, getting training, and even some experience with an ambulance service or in another firefighting capacity can greatly improve your odds of getting through the hiring process. The first step is to check the requirements for the departments in your area or the departments you’d like to work for. Second, physically and mentally prepare yourself. Now it’s time to mentally prepare for oral boards and structured interviews – Firefighter Interview and Hiring Process Resources

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