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Firefighter Interview Questions

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  1. What inspired you to become a firefighter? See answer
  2. What have you done to prepare for a career in firefighting? See answer
  3. What suggestions do you have for improving our fire prevention and public education programs? See answer
  4. In our department, firefighters have four days on, then four days off. How will you and your family manage a non-traditional schedule? See answer
  5. What is the biggest issue facing fire services today? See answer
  6. What changes do you expect to see in the role of firefighting over the next five years? See answer
  7. Are there any situations in which you would disobey a direct order? If so, when and why? See answer
  8. What is the purpose of performing a secondary search of a fire scene after the flames were extinguished, even when the primary search did not reveal any victims still in the building? See answer
  9. What was the most valuable lesson you learned in the fire academy?
  10. What is the first thing you should do when arriving to the scene of a house fire?
  11. What would you do if you suspected a teammate was intoxicated when responding to an emergency?
  12. How do you prioritize station chores when you are not actively responding to an emergency?
  13. How would you keep other motorists safe when responding to a car fire on the highway?
  14. When performing a search and rescue, how would you communicate to your team that a certain area is clear?
  15. How do you stay fit and healthy enough to handle the strenuous conditions of emergency response?
  16. Are you comfortable working in confined spaces?
  17. What should you do when a commander asks for a PAR?
  18. What strategies would you use to motivate fellow firefighters during an emergency?
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8 Firefighter Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What inspired you to become a firefighter?

A:

Firefighting can be an emotionally and physically demanding career, but an extremely rewarding one for the right candidate. Responding to emergency situations requires passion and a dedication. Use this question to learn how the candidate became interested in a career in firefighting.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Specific interest in a firefighting career
  • Indication the candidate values loyalty, teamwork, and service
  • Dedication to protecting the community

Example:

“The events of September 11 made a big impression on me as a child. I have always admired the firefighters and first responders who ran in to help the people who were trapped. I have made it my personal goal to be of service to my community, and being a firefighter is the best way to meet that goal.”

Q:

What have you done to prepare for a career in firefighting?

A:

There are a wide variety of service and education programs designed for teenagers and young adults. Some are specifically geared towards firefighting, while others are more general. Understanding whether the job seeker has invested time and effort in any of these programs demonstrates the candidate’s level of commitment to this career path.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Relevant experience, both paid and unpaid
  • Formal education
  • A pattern of activities that demonstrate commitment to public service

Example:

“A firefighter provided CPR and first-aid certification training to students during my senior year in high school. That inspired me to explore the field further. I became certified in emergency management through our local community college and I went on to work as an EMT for two years. I loved that job, but I wanted to be more involved. That’s when I decided to pursue a career as a firefighter.”

Q:

What suggestions do you have for improving our fire prevention and public education programs?

A:

While fire prevention and public education are critical components of the role. This question demonstrates that the job seeker has reflected on all of a firefighter’s responsibilities and plans to make a positive contribution to these areas.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of interest in fire prevention and public education
  • Awareness of current community programs
  • Creativity and innovative problem-solving

Example:

“One of our community outreach programs offers free smoke detectors. It’s extremely effective, but not enough people know about it. I mentioned it to three other parents at a recent school event, and none of them were aware that all they have to do is come by the station to participate. I would like to promote the program at public events so that more of our city’s residents take advantage.”

Q:

In our department, firefighters have four days on, then four days off. How will you and your family manage a non-traditional schedule?

A:

Irregular schedules can be taxing on a family and can make managing home life stressful. This question is intended to confirm that the job seeker has given some thought to managing a non-traditional work schedule and has the support of friends and family.
What to look for in an answer:

  • An indication that the candidate has thought about how to manage a non-traditional work schedule
  • Mention of supportive family and friends
  • Confidence that the candidate is prepared for the stress of working many consecutive hours

Example:

“Before I completed my application, I discussed the irregular schedule with my spouse. We realize that there will be times that I am going to miss family events. However, we are both committed to working around my schedule and I am confident that we can find ways to make the most of my time off.”

Q:

What is the biggest issue facing fire services today?

A:

There are a variety of issues that a candidate might name when answering this question, and there is no single right answer. Any well-thought-out response shows an interest in the field and an understanding of the challenges that firefighters face.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Thoughtful reflection on challenges facing firefighters
  • Understanding of critical issues in the field
  • A solutions-oriented approach to problem-solving

Example:

“From what I have seen in the news, budgets for fire services keep getting cut. That means we have to do more with less, which could impact the service that we provide. I think it is important to be active in the political process so lawmakers have the information they need to make decisions about how to fund fire services.”

Q:

What changes do you expect to see in the role of firefighting over the next five years?

A:

Every industry is being impacted by the political landscape, the economy and advances in technology. Those who plan a long-term career as a firefighter must be prepared to adapt. This question explores the candidate’s interest in the future of the profession, and it gives insight into the job seeker’s willingness to adapt as necessary.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Interest in events that impact the firefighting profession
  • Positive language indicating an openness to change
  • An awareness of developments in the field

Example:

“I think technology is going to have a big impact on firefighting in the next five years, especially since there are developments in artificial intelligence. This might be an opportunity to find new and safer ways to fight fires.”

Q:

Are there any situations in which you would disobey a direct order? If so, when and why?

A:

In the field, following orders can mean the difference between life and death. This question explores whether candidates are prepared to take direction immediately and without question in an emergency — even if they don’t understand the reasoning. However, situations can crop up from time to time where following orders is not necessarily appropriate. Specifically, this question looks at whether candidates will speak up against illegal or unethical practices.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Respect for authority
  • An understanding that in an emergency, trusting direction from leadership is critical to everyone’s safety
  • Unwillingness to participate in illegal or unethical activities

Example:

“When we are in the middle of battling a fire, I understand that my safety depends on following orders, and the team captain is in charge of the situation. However, if a person in authority directed me to do something illegal, I wouldn’t obey that order.”

Q:

What is the purpose of performing a secondary search of a fire scene after the flames were extinguished, even when the primary search did not reveal any victims still in the building?

A:

Understanding the reasoning behind firefighting protocols is a critical part of making wise decisions in an emergency. Firefighters who know the purpose behind their procedures may be less likely to skip or forget steps. This question gives interviewers insight into a firefighter's knowledge of situational risks. It also helps interviewers identify candidates who are invested in all parts of fighting a fire, not just the initial response and rescue.

A good answer should include:

  • Identifying hidden risks
  • Listening to input from witnesses
  • Commitment to following protocol

Here is one sample response:

Example:

"The secondary search is essential for ensuring that everyone has been safely extracted from the building and eliminating potential hazards. Identifying areas where the fire could reignite is one of the top priorities of a secondary search, as falling embers could easily cause a spark after the primary search. During a secondary search, you can also apply information from witness interviews to account for all possible victims, while a primary search requires you to respond to the emergency without having a complete perspective."

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