The Application Process

24 September 2023
Chief Brent Collins, President,

Application Process

What's the first impression the job panel has of you?  Your physical appearance?  Yes.  What else?  Your choice of words, eye contact, and your handshake?  All important.  You probably missed the most important point!

Your application and resume precede you before you walk in the room.  I can't tell you how many times we've seen applications with misspelled words, chronological order wrong, and we haven't even seen the candidate yet!  Take the time to read our blog post on resumes, found HERE.

The first step is the examination announcement with application dates.  The sign-up period is typically a two-week period but that can vary with each municipality.  Most applications are submitted online at the municipality’s website.  Very few cities take walk-in applications. 

During your application period, if a fire department requires that you have any certifications you will submit those at that time; for example, EMT, Paramedic, Firefighter I, college degree, HazMat, etc.    

Don’t wait until one of the last days to submit your application.  You may feel rushed and make a mistake.   

When you submit your application, double and triple check it.  Make sure you have supplied all the information requested and it is accurate.  Check spelling and grammar.  This is your first impression to the department and shows that you are responsible and pay attention to detail. 

After registering for the exam online, you are typically sent a confirmation email.  Make sure you receive that email – check your spam folder.  Just because you submitted your information, don’t take for granted that you are registered for the exam. I’ve seen it many times where applicants say they registered but for some technical reason the city never received that information.  By then, the application period was past, and they weren’t allowed to take the exam. 

So, if you don’t receive a confirmation email within a day or two of registering, follow up with an email or phone call to the city’s Human Resources, Civil Service or Fire Department to make sure your application has been received.

If you are applying to a large municipality, there may be multiple dates the examination is being given.  Make sure you notate the time, date and location of the exam. 

After you take the written examination, the municipality will contact you by postal mail and/or email to inform you of your written exam score and the details of the next steps in the hiring process if you scored high enough to continue.  This could be the physical agility or the oral interview.  You need to be constantly checking your postal mail, your email and your spam folder to make sure you don’t miss any important information. 

The department may also inform you of these next steps on their webpage.  Check that page often as well.

If you’re serious about becoming a firefighter, don’t lock yourself into a certain area.  Put in as many applications in your surrounding area as possible.  Many of the smaller cities only hire a couple of firefighters per test; mid-size cities may hire 10-15; where large cities may hire from 15-200 per test.

Your focus should be on getting hired as a firefighter, no matter what the size of the department.  It dramatically increases your chances of being hired by another department if you are already currently employed as a firefighter.  If you haven’t been hired by your dream department, you can always concentrate on getting hired by that department at a later date. 

We have a free Hiring Guide Notebook that can help you through the hiring process at our website, 

Good luck in your pursuit of the greatest job on the face of the earth!  Remember – luck goes to the prepared!