Pre-Employment Process

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.

Employment Packet

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. Candidates are advised that the Department expects complete disclosure and honesty from candidates. 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.

Pre-Employment Exams

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

Employment Interview

Candidates are interviewed at the Seattle Fire Department Headquarters building in a formal business interview.

Personal History Interview

Following the formal business interview, candidates meet with a human resources representative to personal history information provided during the pre-employment exam session.

Please note that the Seattle Fire Department has not set any automatic background disqualifiers. We are interested in learning about any challenges a candidate may have faced, as well as lessons learned and any changes the candidate has made as a result. We take age, years since event, and any related occurrences into account when evaluating negative background information.

Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)

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.

Conditional Offer of Employment

Following a comprehensive review of each eligible candidate, selected individuals are invited to sign conditional offers of employment. The conditional offer allows the Department to send the candidate to a 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.

Medical + Psychological Exams

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