How to Become a Firefighter - Typical Firefighter Written Exams

By Douglas Hanna

The firefighter written exam is basically make or break -- get a high score, and you will qualify for the next step in the hiring process. But get a low score and you can kiss that firefighting career goodbye, at least until the next exam is held.

This is why many experts suggest you take several different tests in different municipalities. Do this and you will not only get a good idea of what to expect, you will build your self-confidence.

The examination

On the average, a written firefighter examination takes about 3 1/2 hours. It will most likely include seven or more different kinds of questions. Here are the most typical types:

1. Recalling, visualizing, and spatial orientation questions.

2. Reading and verbal/listening comprehension questions

3. Questions on understanding and applying basic mathematics and science

4. Questions relating to tools and equipment

5. Questions about dealing with people

6. Questions relating to mechanical devices

7. Questions that test judgment and reasoning

Note: The first section, recalling, visualizing and spatial orientation questions, will most likely be broken into three subsections.

Six typical firefighter tests


This testing was developed primarily as a way to prescreen entry-level firefighter candidates and save the hours and hours of staff time that was historically spent on oral board interviews. This test measures your skills and abilities in four categories: Teamwork, public relations, mechanical aptitude and reading ability.

FireTEAM Video-Based Human Relations Test

A second FireTeam test is the video-based human relations test. This test is multiple choice. Its goal is to test your skills in human relations

The video-based human relations test covers many performance dimensions related to being an excellent firefighter, including:


-Positive versus negative influence on station internal relations

-Professional responses in difficult situations

-Situational judgment

-Positive relations with supervisors and management

-Professional behavior and bearing

FireTEAM Reading Test

This reading test completes the elements in the FireTEAM testing battery. It is designed specifically for firefighting, a job which requires the ongoing study of difficult and technical materials. It addresses the reading competency that you need to have for this job.

ErgoMechanical Animated Aptitude Test

This test, which represents the most dramatic update for IE testing in 60 years, is designed to assist your mechanical common sense. It addresses:

-Analytical problem solving

-Adapting and improvising

-Working with complex systems and sequences

-Understanding the physical world

-Anticipating predictable occurrences

Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS)

This test was used extensively in the early 1990s, but has been superseded in most cities by the FireTEAM tests. The most common CPS written tests you might run in today are:

-#2129: Entry Firefighter

-#2150: Entry Firefighter

-#2158-A: Entry Firefighter (EMT / Paramedic requirements only)

-#2179: Entry Firefighter

-#2199: Entry Firefighter

A fire department may also use one of the following supplemental tests designed to test specific skills


-Firefighter Essentials

-Ground Ladder Practices

These supplemental tests generally consist of 30 questions..

WH management Solutions - Selection Solutions Entry-level Firefighter Written Test

This entry-level, written examination has been used and validated by fire departments across the country. It is said to provide the most powerful selection process possible. It incorporates research on multiple intelligence and conditional reasoning as well as a broader range of job related abilities than traditional written test. While most entry-level written tests simply measure cognitive (knowledge) skills, this test also assesses several other dimensions that are important for success in fire service. These include interpersonal skills, self-awareness and emotional skills and practical skills.

You can visit the CMS website,, for more information on this test.

There may be several months between the time you take the exam and when the final answer key and the official list are published. When the final list of candidates is established, you will be notified by mail of your number on the list. The next step will be the announcement of appointments for physical and emotional tests but it may be several months before this happens.

Douglas Hanna is the publisher of the popular website, This site offers much valuable information about becoming a firefighter, how to find a firefighting job, sample firefighter exam questions and much more.

Hanna lives in a Denver suburb. He has written more than 200 ezine articles on a variety of subjects.

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