Fire Interview Questions & Tips

Fire Interview Questions & Tips

The following list was collected and compiled from various sources over a span of time by Emeryville firefighter (and LMC fire academy instructor), James Gundlach.

If you go into an interview with answers to every question here, and pay heed to the tips which follow the questions, you will do good.  You may not get the job, but you will have done well, and that counts for a lot.

Fire Department Interview Questions

Standard Fire Interview Questions:

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to be a firefighter?  When did you decide on this career?
  3. What is the job of a firefighter?  Are you qualified?
  4. What have you done to prepare for this position?
  5. What are you bringing to the job?
  6. Why do you want to work for this city or agency?
  7. What do you know about this city or agency?
  8. What do you like to do?  What are your hobbies?
  9. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  10. What would your employer say about you?
  11. What are the attributes of a firefighter?  What is the most important one to you?

How would you handle the following scenarios?

  1. Drinking or drugs on the job?
  2. Stealing on the job?
  3. Conflict with another employee?
  4. Irate citizen?
  5. An employee crisis at an emergency?
  6. Sexual harassment?
  7. Racial situation?
  8. Conflicting orders at an emergency?
  9. An order that could place you in great danger or be morally wrong?
  10. What do you say when you don’t know an answer to a question?
  11. Are you on any other hiring lists?  What would you do if another city called you?
  12. When can you start if we offered you the job?
  13. How far do you want to go in the fire service?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  14. What are the quality traits of a firefighter?  Which one is the most important to you?
  15. Have you ever been in an emergency situation?  Tell us what you did.
  16. What word would best describe you in a positive way? A negative way?
  17. How do you handle conflict?
  18. Why would we select you over the other candidates?
  19. Do you have anything to add?
  20. Define commonsense.
  21. Define diversity.
  22. What is the Mission Statement of our Fire Department?
  23. What is the Vision Statement of our Fire Department?
  24. Who is the Fire Chief?
  25. Who makes up the Command staff of this Fire Department?
  26. What type of City Government is this city?
  27. What class department are we? (ISO Rating)
  28. Tell us about the job announcement.
  29. What are you short, mid-range and long term goals?
  30. The Star of Life represents what?
  31. The Maltese cross represents what?
  32. What is insubordination?
  33. Define Teamwork and why is Teamwork important in the fire service?
  34. What is your strongest communication skill?
  35. Define Character.
  36. Define ethics.
  37. Can you explain the Fire Tetrahedron?
  38. Describe a typical day of a firefighter.
  39. Define Customer Service, and how does it relate to the fire service?


Ways to strike out on an oral board interview

  1. Poor personal appearance.
  2. Lack of interest and enthusiasm, appear lazy.
  3. Passiveness or indifference.
  4. Overemphasis on wages.
  5. Condemnation of past employers.
  6. Failure to look at board members during interview.
  7. Limp, fishy handshake.
  8. Overbearing, overaggressive, conceited with superiority or “know-it-all” attitude.
  9. Inability to express self clearly:  poor voice, diction and/or grammar.
  10. Lack of confidence and pose:  nervous, ill at ease.
  11. Make excuses:  evasive, hedges on unfavorable factors in work records, etc.
  12. Lack of tact, courtesy; ill-mannered.
  13. Lack of maturity and/or vitality.
  14. Indecision.
  15. Sloppy application.
  16. Merely “shopping” for the position.
  17. Want position for only a short time.
  18. Lack of interest in jurisdiction.
  19. Domination of interview, high pressure type.
  20. Low moral standards.
  21. Intolerant, strong prejudices.
  22. Narrow interest.
  23. Inability to listen and/or take criticism.

What to bring to your Interview

  1. Enough resumes, and color copies of your certificates for the interviewers and at least 2 extra just in case.
  2. Money for parking garages, or parking meters.

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Reminders about the hiring process:

1) Everything you have done since the age of 18 is made available to background investigators and fire depts.

a)    Past employment
b)    Credit scores
c)    All financial information
d)    Rental history, evictions, late payments etc….
e)    School grades
f)     Background investigators will check with friends, family, wives, girlfriends, work associates, bosses/managers/supervisors etc….
g)    Ex-wives, ex-husbands
h)   Neighbors
i)     DMV drivers license info, criminal background, Live Scan

2) Myspace, facebook, and any other online networking sites you have can and will be looked at, so watch what you say and post on them.

3) To get hired you need to separate yourself from other candidates.

a)    College degree AS, BS, BA, Master’s degree
b)    Paramedic school
c)    Life experience
d)    Outside training, check the websites list
e)   VOLUNTEER lots of places look for volunteers, do something you have an interest in, (church groups, community groups, MADD, Big Brothers, Red Cross etc…..)
f)    Don’t limit yourself to one geographical area (ie…Contra Costa Co, or Alameda Co)
g)    Take as many fire tests as possible.
h)    Take the CPAT test, keep card up to date
i)     Learn to interview

i) Eye contact
ii) Firm handshake
iii) Address interviewers by name, rank etc….
iv) If your asked “do you have any questions for us?” Instead of asking questions, Thank them for their time to interview you etc….
v) Bring your resume, color copies, application to the interview in duplicates (usually one for each interviewer + 1 extra)

j)     I suggest when you send in your application type it as a pdf document for neatness.
k)    If you’re asked to provide certificates, COLOR photocopy them NO black and whites.

About the Author

Josh Sauberman is the author of the Journey To Firefighter blog. He is a graduate of the Los Medanos Fire Academy, and an Engineer/Company Officer with the Cordelia Fire Department where he started as a Resident Firefighter in March 2010. Originally from New York, he earned his B.S. degree at the University of Arizona,Tucson and subsequently an A.S. in Fire Technology from Los Medanos College. Josh lives in the San Francisco suburb, Walnut Creek and has worked as an EMT as well as a professional in the fire restoration industry. He continues to pursue a full-time role in the career he plans to retire from - Firefighting.