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Gregory Dean, Fire Chief

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Recruit Training Program


Once offered a position, all candidates must successfully complete our in-house, paid Recruit Training program. Upon successful completion of Recruit School, Firefighter Recruits are assigned to an Operations Division company to complete their probationary year.  Graduation from probationary Firefighter to a regular position occurs one year from date of hire.

The Seattle Fire Department's Recruit Training program is nationally recognized. Seattle was the first fire department in Washington State to receive accreditation for its Firefighter Training Program in a National accreditation system.

In addition to comprehensive classroom instruction, the program includes training in firefighting techniques and equipment use. The Seattle Recruit School is known as a hands-on, drill-intensive training program. Recruits are evaluated daily and must successfully complete all training elements in order to graduate.

This physically and mentally intense 15-week program consists of approximately 694 hours of training. Study time outside of the 46 hours per week of on-site training is required.  Candidates who are able to meet the challenge of Seattle's Recruit Training program, will earn Firefighter I Certification, as well as training in Technical Rescue, Hazardous Materials and Driver/Pump Operator.


Before Recruit Training begins, an Orientation Night is offered by the Seattle Fire Department for both the new Firefighter Recruit and his or her primary partner to learn more about the Training Program and what to expect, as well as ideas on how to prepare for this intensive time.

There are times that the demands on the Recruit may impact family members and/or partners. The Department offers Recruits a number of resources and support systems during this time.


"If you are the type of personality who likes a challenge and can succeed under pressure, you will succeed in recruit school.  Be prepared to be humble, attentive, studious and passionate about learning the job of being a Seattle firefighter, regardless of how much or how little experience you have coming in."

"Having had zero previous fire experience, it was a steep learning curve trying to learn new terminology and equipment in such a condensed time...a positive attitude and demeanor will go tremendous distances towards keeping you around, while you get up to speed."

"Set yourself up for success by knowing your weaknesses and working on them ahead of time.  If you are physically need to start months ahead of time preparing your body.  For me (no [structural firefighting] background) a big help would have been doing all the reading before drill school started."


Candidates are evaluated throughout recruit school in the areas of safety, manipulative skills, motivation and cognitive performance.  To succeed in the Seattle Fire Department's intense Recruit Training program, I recommend the following preparations:

Physical:  Engage in advanced strength and endurance training.  You will need endurance beyond what the baseline CPAT can measure in order to perform required drills and lists of skills multiple times without rest.

Manipulative: Familiarize yourself with the equipment you will be using.  For instance, you should know how to start a Stihl chainsaw.  You would benefit from having experience with power tools.  Below are some sample Recruit School skill sheets that list equipment you will be expected to be comfortable with.

Home Life:  Make sure you family is prepared for your time during recruit school.  You have very little time or energy for anything except recruit school during the 15-week program.

General Experience:  You can gain some familiarization with the tools and equipment of the fire service as well as some hands-on experience through a volunteer department or through Senior Cadets.

The primary text used by Seattle Recruits is the Basic Skills Manual published in-house by our Training Division.  The other primary text is the IFSTA Essentials of Fire Fighting and Fire Department Operations, 5th Edition. 

Below are sample pages from the Basic Skills Manual as well as some sample skill sheets and drill videos.

Sample Pages From Basic Skills Manual


Skill Sheets



Last Modified:   November 13, 2014

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