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In most areas, the firefighter hiring process begins with an application. Interviews are then scheduled with those applicants who meet the requirements of the department as described in the application information. Physical fitness testing as well as agility testing is commonly scheduled for those applicants who make it through the initial interview processes. There are background checks and reference checks conducted on those who advance past the physical component of the firefighter hiring process. Follow-up interviews are commonly used to further separate the desirable candidates from those who will be dropped from the firefighter hiring process.
Many applications are accepted for every single person selected to join the firefighter hiring process. The best of the best are typically the only applicants chosen to advance through the firefighter hiring process, and of those chosen to participate in the selection process, only a small percentage will actually be offered a position on the fire department. The elimination process begins with an interview. While many hopefuls will be given the opportunity to interview, for several, this will often mark the end of the hiring process. Of those who are chosen to advance past this portion of the process, physical testing will commonly be scheduled.
Physical testing is a mix of medical tests, X-rays and blood work combined with actual physical endurance and strength testing to determine body conditioning, stamina and ability. Agility testing is often combined with the physical portion of the hiring process and carried out as stair climbing exercises, fire hose relays in the form of rolling and unrolling the hose, as well as carrying the hose to the upper floors of a testing facility and having the time required to achieve the test recorded. For those who are selected to advance at this point in the firefighter hiring process, follow-up interviews are typically arranged.
Follow-up interviews are commonly completed by a panel or group. The applicant will be asked questions and interviewed by several members of the fire department, often including the fire chief. Background checks including past employment history, criminal history and reference checks commonly follow the interview with the panel. Any discrepancy with reported information on the application is usually grounds for removal from the firefighter hiring process. Successful applicants are typically offered the opportunity to advance to the firefighter academy.
While in the academy, candidates will be further tested and trained, with many candidates failing to meet the minimal standards for firefighter trainees. The firefighter hiring process commonly continues through the training period and into a probationary period of employment with the fire department. Once the probationary period has been completed, the candidate is awarded firefighter status and becomes a member of the force.