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Pre-Employment Screening

The top 25% of candidates from the Testing Process are referred to the Seattle Fire Department for pre-employment screening.  Each step in the pre-employment screening process is competitive.


The Fire Department will send the top 25% of candidates an employment packet that asks for a variety of information including education, employment, driving record, criminal history, and personal references.  Any materials a candidate would want to be reviewed can be submitted with the employment packet.  For instance, resumes, letters of reference and certificates are all accepted.


Candidates will be scheduled for a written exam session.  These exams are used to obtain personal history and to evaluate mechanical aptitude, reading ability, basic math skills, personality style and emotional stability.


Following the exam session, candidates will be interviewed at the Seattle Fire Department Headquarters in a formal business interview.  Part of the interview will include a discussion of a candidate's personal history obtained from background checks as well as from information candidates provide during the pre-employment exam session.

Candidates are advised to be forthright in the information provided as any misrepresentation may be cause for disqualification from consideration as Firefighter candidate.


The Candidate Physical Ability (CPAT) is administered prior to each recruit class.  Candidates may be required to take the CPAT more than once prior to being hired.

Individuals should engage in advanced physical training prior to the CPAT, targeting muscle groups used in lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying and other actions related to Firefighter tasks.  A workout program may include distance running, sprints, rowing, stair climbing with weight pack and weight lifting to develop both the upper and lower body.

Download/View the Candidate Preparation Guide for information about specific physical training and weight lifting in preparation for the CPAT.

The CPAT exam is comprised of eight stations that are completed in one continuous sequence.  The test is pass/fail.  The maximum time allowed for passing is 10 minutes and 20 seconds.  Download/view the CPAT Orientation Guide for detailed information.


Strength and fitness are crucial in meeting the physical demands throughout recruit school.  Candidates are encouraged to engage in an advanced strength and endurance preparation program prior to entering Recruit School.  The Seattle Fire Department's Fitness Trainer developed a Functional Firefighter Fitness Program.  This program includes advanced training beyond the baseline fitness measured by the CPAT.


Select candidates will be invited to sign conditional offers of employment.  The conditional offer allows the Department to send the candidate to a comprehensive medical exam.  Candidates who sign conditional offers will be hired by the Department, barring any medical issues, a failed CPAT or discovery of negative background information.


The medical exam includes a comprehensive medical history, blood and urine samples, body fat composition, hearing/vision testing, treadmill, physical condition assessment and other related medical tests.  This exam takes approximately six hours.  Candidates must provide complete and accurate information in a medical questionnaire and during the medical examination with the physician.

Our doctors reference the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) guidelines when conducting Firefighter candidate medical evaluations.  You may review NFPA 1582 online for free at

The psychological exam includes a series of written tests followed by an interview with a clinical psychologist.


Pre-employment screening questions should be directed to the Seattle Fire Department Recruitment Office via email at


Last Modified:   November 12, 2014

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