Examinations Required to Be A Firefighter
In most fire departments several different types of tests and examinations are given. Generally, the tests include a written test, an oral interview, a psychological test, a physical ability test, and a medical examination. Additional examinations can include video testing, which deals with interpersonal relationships and job scenarios.
The Oral Interview
Some fire departments require an oral interview; some do not. If an oral interview will be given, the examination announcement will outline what general areas it is designed to evaluate.
The Psychological Test
Psychological tests are administered as part of the overall recruitment process to help the fire service determine whether candidates are mentally prepared to cope with the stressful nature of the job. A candidate cannot study for psychological testing, but knowledge of what to expect is valuable.
Physical Ability Tests
Firefighting is a physically demanding profession, and most fire departments require a candidate to pass a physical ability test. One of the most common tests used is the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).
Throughout the country, medical guidelines have been established for the position of firefighter. Most of these requirements can be found in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582 Standard (Medical Requirements for Firefighters). In general, candidates will be examined by a physician in the employ of the fire department or civil service commission conducting the hiring process.
A medical exam is essential to ensure that potential candidates are physically capable of performing firefighting tasks. The examination includes screening for a list of possible conditions that would or could prevent a fire department member or candidate from performing as a firefighter and thereby present a significant risk to the health and safety of fellow firefighters and civilians. Any impairment that may adversely affect the ability of the candidate to perform the duties of the position could constitute grounds for disqualification. A candidate who is rejected for a medical condition that over time is corrected or improves may be able to apply for a reexamination within the time frame of the eligible list.
Requirements that may be specified in a standard medical examination are as follows.
Visual acuity of 20/20 binocular with or without correction or uncorrected visual acuity of 20/40 binocular for wearers of contact lenses or glasses.
Hearing of standard average threshold, without correction, and not worse than 25-decibel loss in the 500-, 1000-, 2000-, and 3000-hertz ranges. Testing with a hearing aid is not permitted.
Heart of normal size, rhythm, and rate.
Blood pressure within normal range (systolic = 90 to 140, diastolic = 60 to 90) and normal blood conditions.
Lungs at normal function. A history of asthma or chronic bronchitis may constitute grounds for disqualification.
Skin in normal condition. Contagious skin conditions and allergies related to the job of firefighter may constitute grounds for disqualification.
Gastrointestinal system function normal. Chronic digestive diseases (ulcers and hemorrhoids) may constitute grounds for disqualification.
Weight within normal limits. Excessive body fat and obesity may constitute grounds for disqualification.
Extremities in normal condition. Loss of fingers and toes and joint diseases and/or disorders may constitute grounds for disqualification.
Muscular and Skeletal systems that are normal. Abnormalities in these two areas of the body may constitute grounds for disqualification. For example, a candidate with a hernia, either complete or incomplete, would be disqualified until the hernia is repaired.
Neurological function normal. Disorders such as epilepsy may constitute grounds for disqualification.
General good health. Any condition in any other systems of the body that is deemed by the medical practitioner conducting the examination as having the potential to interfere with the candidate's ability to perform the duties of a firefighter may constitute grounds for disqualification.
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