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WRITTEN TEST PREPARATION

The Written Exam:

More times than not, the written exam is the first step of the firefighter hiring process. The tests do not vary a great deal from department to department. The content is usually fire based. In other words, while applicants are very seldom expected to have prior fire experience for a written exam, the questions asked are constructed using fire terminology.

For firefighter written examinations, count on a combination of any or all these sections, and in a multiple choice (multiple guess!) format:

 
 

Courtesy of Charlotte NC. FD

 
  • Listening comprehension – a passage is read to a testing audience. This usually involves a series of names, numbers, geographical directions, or locations. At the conclusion of the reading, 10-20 questions are asked based on what was read.

  • Reading comprehension – much like standardized tests taken during elementary and secondary school. You read a passage, in this case involving some fire terminology, and then are asked a series of questions on the written exam based on what was read.

  • Spelling – self explanatory.

  • Grammar – again, self explanatory.

  • Math – fire departments are not looking for people who can breeze over calculus or split atoms. If you can do that, hey, great. But the math is geared toward math that’s found on the job – high school level geometry, algebra, and common-place addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. No calculators allowed!

  • Deductive reasoning/Decision-making-a question is presented over a few sentences. 4-5 answers are provided, with the correct one based on a logical response to the information given. Once again, you don't need to be a firefighter to answer them. But you do have to THINK!

  • Written communication is not as common in the fire service, but occasionally found. Usually involves a short essay to answer a scenario based question.

  • Mechanical principles-questions based on simple physics, common mechanical aptitude, and basic understanding of energy, volume, pressure, and measurements. These tend to show pictures of pulleys, belts, containers, planes, gauges, and cogs.

  • Map reading/following directions - here's a map - pick the answer that offers the shortest way to get from point A to point B, or from Maple Street to 6th Avenue. This is a firefighter testing staple!

 

The tests are usually in the 100 question range. A time limit is always established. Some have timed sections of the exam, others just a set time to complete the entire test. Either way, watching your pace is as important as answering well.

We have included some examples of a few types of exam questions, one Decision Making, one Spelling, one Math. The answers will follow ALL the questions:

DECISION MAKING:

Firefighters, after extinguishing a house fire, are questioned by the homeowners and neighbors as to why a hole had to be cut in the roof causing extensive damage to the house. The firefighter should:

A) Explain to the citizen that the damage was necessary to the house to avoid further damage
B) Tell the citizens that the fire department is not required to give answers concerning firefighting operations
C) Tell the homeowner that insurance will pay for all damages done by firefighters
D) Allow the citizens to vent their anger and then instruct them of the required complaint procedures

SPELLING:

The ladder company’s inability to reach the roof was due to its ladder size _________.

A) Limmitations
B) Limitasions
C) Limitations
D) None of the above

MATH:

A firefighter is operating Engine 3’s fire pumps. The officer immediately calls for a 27% increase in the pressure of water being supplied. The current pressure is 90 psi. What will the new pressure be?

A) 114.3
B) 113.4
C) 121.3
D) None of the above

As you can see, fire terminology in a fire-based question. However, no fire knowledge is needed to answer. By the way, here are the answers:

DECISION MAKING: A
SPELLING: C
MATH: A

So, how do you prepare for these questions, and so many more? FCT has the resources to get you there.

Our FCT store provides you with the books needed to prep you for the written exam.