Below are some of the questions we get asked most frequently about the process of becoming a firefighter. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

The testing process begins by taking and passing both a written exam and a physical agility test. The written exam is administered through National Testing Network ( The physical agility test is the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT) and can be administered by any IAFF certified provider.

You must have a valid CPAT from a certified provider within 1 year of the written test closing date.  The candidate will then register their test scores with WA Fire Careers. These agencies will then have a hiring timeline to guide the candidate through the process.

Please visit National Testing Networks Candidate information page for detailed information on the written exam process and answers to frequently asked questions.

Visit our CPAT Prep page, located here. The CPAT is a metric on the minimum physical requirements needed to participate in the testing process and will not be indicative of the fitness level required to be successful in the academy and as a firefighter. To ensure success in the academy, you should be able to easily pass the CPAT exam and should focus on upper body strength, grip strength, leg strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Firefighting, by nature, is a physically demanding job that takes strength, endurance and flexibility to perform. A consistent and progressive health and fitness routine is a must for firefighters to perform the job without risk of injuring themselves or others.

If you cannot complete a minimum fitness standard during the CPAT, you will fail the test and will not advance in the process.

Recruits should be able to complete the minimum physical standards prior to arriving at the recruit academy.  The ability to perform the requirements will greatly improve an individual’s success. Physical fitness in addition to training competencies will be reviewed a component of academy evaluations.

Recruits will undergo several fitness evaluations during the academy. Visit our Fitness Requirements page for a detailed account of the minimum and ideal metrics for the fire academy fitness evaluations.

Interview attire should be business professional. Your overall appearance, attire and presentation should be representative of the professional, service-oriented profession that you are trying to join.

You will be asked to share your experiences that demonstrate strong work ethic, teamwork, positive attitude and your ability to perform. Spend time developing your answers and then practice in front of your friends and family. Ask your family to ask you questions and then have them discuss how your response.

You may also visit our Interview Prep page. 

No, family members and friends of fire service employees do not receive preference. All candidates must go through the same testing and hiring process.

Candidates who pass the oral board will have their names placed on an eligibility list for each individual agency in rank order of final examination scores.  The eligibility list for each agency will remain in effect in accordance with their civil service rules or policy. When a vacancy occurs, the agencies will certify to the Fire Chief the appropriate number of names from the eligibility or hiring list for consideration in accordance with civil service rules or policy. For additional information regarding the civil service rules observed by each agency please visit their website for additional information.

Yes, being at least 15 minutes early gives the candidate a bit of a safety net. Being at all late to any part of the testing and hiring process will result in the candidate being removed from the process. There are no exceptions so plan accordingly. Additionally, being late to the academy can also result in being released.

The fire academy is 20-weeks long. 15 weeks for fire training and 5 weeks for EMT certification. The academy is Monday – Friday, from 0800 to 1700, with a one-hour lunch.

IFSAC Firefighter I
IFSAC Firefighter II
IFSAC Hazardous Materials Awareness
IFSAC Hazardous Materials Operations
EMT (National Registry).

Yes, all recruits participate in all 20 weeks of the academy, regardless of their current certification status.

Yes, being a firefighter or EMT is not required to be hired as an entry level firefighter. The academy will provide all the required training and certifications, even if you already have them. What you do need is the want/passion to become a firefighter and then the dedication to learn the process. Each step in the hiring process is equally important from filling out the application, designing your resume and supportive documents, passing the written exam and physical test to the selection interview panels and chief’s interview. It is a highly competitive process, and many people go through it many times to perfect their testing and interview skills prior to being offered a job.

Fire academy teaches fire recruits the base disciplines and skills that you will need to be safe and successful in the fire service. You will spend time in the classroom, on the drill ground- performing practical skills and studying for the many tests and evaluations to pass the course. Fire academy is taught by skilled instructors with a paramilitary approach. There are high expectations put on each recruit firefighter to succeed. Fire recruits will learn to work closely as a team. The camaraderie that is formed with your fellow recruits often inspires friendships that last through your fire service career.

The fire service was developed as a paramilitary organization around 1647. A paramilitary organization is a semi-militarized organizational structure similar to those of a professional military but not actually part of the armed forces. The fire service uses a “Rank” system to define leadership, as well as “Crews, Battalions, Districts, etc.” to define personnel organization. Additionally, the fire service uses a “Chain of Command” system for communication. When firefighters are hired, they are considered recruits. They must complete a recruit academy to become probationary firefighters and remain on probation for an allotted time period. Promotions to higher ranks are determined by years of experience, test scores, and other evaluative criteria.

The most common firefighter shift schedule is 24 or 48 hours on-shift followed by a few days off. Firefighters often work holidays and weekends as part of their schedule rotation.

Firefighters are allowed to sleep at night during their 24-hour shifts but are often interrupted with emergency calls. Aside from responding to calls during the day, firefighters use this time to train, study, and participate in community events and other assignments.

Firefighters do fight fires but that is only a small portion of the job description and duties. Firefighters are also EMT’s and help people with medical emergencies. In fact, the majority of most department’s 911 calls for service are medical emergencies. Beyond putting out fires and running medical aid calls, firefighters are also trained to handle different kinds of emergencies including vehicle accidents, HAZMAT responses, natural disasters, technical and rope rescues and calls for service/assistance. Firefighters also might participate in prevention programs like public education and fire safety inspections of public buildings. When firefighters are not running emergency calls, they work to upkeep the station and all the apparatus, write reports and even workout.

Being a firefighter takes mental fortitude and strength and is equally valuable to their physical strength and endurance. Many situations and emergencies can be stressful-mentally and physically. Firefighters work to stay healthy and fit, on and off duty.

Yes, once you are hired by the department (including pre-academy and academy), you are paid a salary.

Yes, as an employee of the department you will receive health insurance coverage in accordance with the agency policy and/or collective bargaining agreement.

Depending on the type of injury or illness and the recovery time the agency will determine what options may be available.  Some options could include continuing in your academy class, deferring to the next academy class, or potentially being released from employment. It is highly recommended to not participate in high-risk activities which can lead to injuries prior to or during the academy, and including while you are on probation.

Firefighters are human too. Part of the hiring process is to make sure that each person will be a good fit for the department and a background investigation and driving abstract will be reviewed as part of the pre-employment background process.

Typically, one speeding ticket does not necessarily remove you from being eligible for the job. Two, three or more, might. Each circumstance is carefully reviewed and additional information regarding minimum requirements and civil service rules observed by each agency can be found on the agency website.

As a component of the process candidates will be asked to complete the NTN Personal History Questionnaire (PHQ).  The participating agencies make all hiring decisions after a pre-employment selection process which includes a background investigation, physical ability test, drug test, psychological and medical examination.