Promotional Exam for Fire Departments

Promotional Exam

Most people pick a career where there is room advancement after a few years.  As a firefighter, there are a few ways of promotion: the oldest method which is by popular vote, being selected by the fire chief, chief officers, or a written and/or oral examination.

Qualifications for Promotional Exam

Before deciding who can apply for the promotional exam, the fire department must decide what qualifications they are looking for.  This will include competency, years active, education, and anything else that the fire chief and chief thinks are important qualifications for someone who is going to be promoted to possess.  After qualification standards are set and the firefighters are aware, chiefs will need to tell potential firefighters what else they seek, such as a letter of interest and a resume.

Selection for Promotional Exam

Some states provide a promotional exam that is compiled of a written exam and oral interview with a selection committee.  One criticism that the exam has had, is a committee of outsiders wouldn’t know the firefighters strengths and weaknesses.  However, it has been proven wrong.  Through an extensive background evaluation and spending several hours with the firefighters, they were able to see personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses and make an assessment.  If there is no promotional exam, the chief will put together a group of peers who will be part of the selection.

Once the candidates are selected, there is an interview that is broken into four sections: background, safety, operations, and human relations.  Some questions a candidate might be asked during the interview portion are:

  • Why do you think you are qualified for this job?
  • What is your weakest area of education or experience?
  • How are you perceived by your fellow firefighters?
  • Should a collapse danger zone extend all the way around a Type 5 constructed building? Explain your answer or reasoning.
  • What are the appropriate strategies and tactics for a natural gas leak occurring on the interior of a residential structure?
  • Explain the difference between venting for life and venting for fire.
  • If you disagree with a chief officer’s decision regarding an administrative personnel matter, how would you handle that disagreement?
  • A firefighter in the station reports that another member of your crew, outside your presence, made a sexist/discriminatory comment directly to a member of an independent ambulance crew. How do you handle this situation?
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