The written tests

Each fire department has their own way of handling the testing process. Most of them have some sort of written test, a physical test, oral boards, and then a chief’s interview.

I recently completed the process at two different departments. They each handled their testing very differently (and were looking at different populations).

Department A was looking to run a “green” academy. No prior firefighting or EMT experience necessary.
Department B was looking to run a “transitional” academy. Each candidate had to have Fire 1 & 2 certifications and EMT.

Department A had a set of written materials. Each candidate was to obtain the material and study it for a test in the future. The booklet was 5 chapters over about 100 pages. The booklet covered some basic firefighter/EMT information like hoses, dehydration etc, and also had a chapter that was all SOPs for things like vacation time and sick leave.

I believe the point of this style of test was to see how well you could study and retain information, even if it’s new to you, or contrary to how your department functions. Are you a “teachable” candidate. Would you be able to recall details over a wide-range of subject matter in a stressful situation. At the same time, I think there was a degree of “are you taking this seriously”, because if you weren’t there was no way you would do well on the test. It was a lot to cover. Even with 5 weeks (I was doing Pima academy and working full-time at the same time).
The written test was 75% made up of the material from the text, and about 25% “aptitude” type questions.

The aptitude style questions are things like “if this face has a star on it and the box rotates 2 times to the left, where will the star be”. They also asked a number of grammar and comprehension type questions.

The actual test was conducted at a large facility and split all of the candidates into 2 or 3 separate groups, and lasted for about 90 minutes.

Department B had a computer based testing setup. The majority of the questions revolved station life, and video-based scenarios. I believe they are looking to find out what kind of person you are. Are you a team player? Are you looking to assert your dominance? The last 25% or so of the test was similar to the end of Department A’s test. The main difference was there were quite a few math-based questions. Such as, how many lengths of hose would it take to go X feet.

While my aim in this is not to tip you off about the testing, I would like to give you a general idea of what you are in for. The last portion of A’s test, and the majority of B’s test were not really things you could “study up” for. They are “how does your mind work” and “do you have basic reading/writing skills”.

The biggest tip I can give you for testing day is this: Make sure you are well rested the day of, and eat a good breakfast. Those will help your brain get into gear a bit quicker, and relax as much as possible. It’s only your future riding on it, right?

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