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How to Apply


Each individual must submit an application during the open application period in order to participate in the testing process.  Applicants will be notified of testing dates, time and location.  Applicants should read the Firefighter Job Bulletin.

Entry-Level Firefighter testing is conducted by the City of Seattle Personnel Department, Fire Exams Unit.  Testing currently includes a written exam and two oral board interviews.  During the testing season, exam workshops are offered by the Fire Exams Unit.

2013 Oral Board Orientation Sessions
2013 Oral Board Preparation Tips


2011 SFD Written ExamThere are no specific textbooks required to study for the Written Exam.  Written Exam Workshops will be provided for applicants prior to the exam.  The workshops give candidates an opportunity to take a mock exam and to explore aspects of this particular testing process.  Each session is taught by firefighters that are familiar with the written test procedures.

The written examination takes one day to complete.  The components of the written exam are as follows:

  • Part I is a mandatory study period
  • At the end of Part I, study materials are collected and exam materials are distributed.
  • Part II is the written exam session.

Part I

The study period format will be as follows: The instructions for the study session are read aloud by a test monitor. During the study session, each applicant is given two-and-one-half (2.5) hours to study a variety of printed materials, including printed text, line drawings, written instructions, and pictures. These study materials are the basis for the aptitude test which is administered during Part II.

During the study session (Part I), you may take breaks. Please note, however, that these breaks will shorten the amount of time that you will have for studying.

Candidates are allowed to make written notes about the study materials during Part I; however, these notes must be written on paper provided by the test monitor. Also, each applicant must turn in his/her notes to the test monitor at the conclusion of the study session.  You will not be allowed to use these notes or any study materials during the exam period.

Part II

For the exam session, instructions for the test are read aloud by the test monitor. The test requires that applicants read printed materials and record their answers on an optically scanned computer answer sheet. Applicants are required to use a pencil to record their answers. Applicants will have one-and-one-half (1.5) hours to complete the written examination.

The questions on the examination are drawn directly from materials provided during the study session. You must learn the study materials presented during the study session to do well on the examination.

Note this important instruction: You are not allowed to take the exam (Part II) if you did not attend the study session (Part I).


Candidates who successfully complete the Written Exam will be notified by mail of the date, time, and location of the first Oral Board Interview Exam. Oral Board Preparation Tips are available for download.

The Oral Board Interview is a formal business interview that allows the Personnel Department to learn more about the candidates' skills, qualifications, background, and interests.

Candidates who pass the initial oral interview will be invited to take a second oral interview.

Candidates who pass all portions of the examination process will be placed on a ranked eligible list according to performance on the oral interview exams.

Currently, Oral Board information sessions are being offered to candidates who participated in the October 2013 written examination to assist in preparing for the oral board examinations.  These sessions are meant to provide an overview of the oral board interview procedures that will be used and a review of methods for preparing yourself for the interview.  2013 Oral Board Orientation Sessions 


The Personnel Department's role is to establish and eligible list of candidates who pass both the written exam and both oral board interviews. 

Final ranking on the eligible list includes veteran's scoring criteria for qualified candidates per Washington State Law (RCW 41.04.010).  After passing the written exam and first oral board interview, veterans wishing to claim veteran's scoring criteria will be asked to submit documentation (a long-form DD214) which indicates the nature of the discharge in order to receive veteran's preference points.  Preference points are only added to passing scores.

The top 25% of candidates on the eligible list are referred to the Seattle Fire Department for Pre-Employment Screening.


Questions about the testing process, including questions regarding the application process, test dates and veteran's scoring criteria should be directed to the Fire Exams Unit via email to or by phone at (206) 615-0581.

For Pre-Employment Screening questions, please email


Last Modified:   November 14, 2013

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