Firefighting is a career that not only require physical fitness but also emotional stability and presence of mind. Not everyone’s cut out for the job – you need to be emphatic, sensitive, strong, and smart. The technical qualifications may vary depending on the location and fire agency you’re applying for. Entry-level candidates also need academic certification, professional training, and some experience in firefighting departments. Other than that you have to clear a direct interview round to be selected in a firefighting team. Here is a list of firefighting job interview questions that would help you in your preparation.
Situational Questions for an Interview for a firefighter’s job
Firefighters have to be on their toes and remain prepared for any unforeseen situation. So chances are that the interviewer might want to check your responses to certain scenarios. Here are some situation-based sample questions that can be thrown your way in your interview
1. What would you do if a person stuck inside a burning building starts panicking?
Firefighters often have to risk their own lives in order to save others. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be reckless with your life. Say that you’d evaluate the risks involved before entering a burning building to help someone out. And if the resident is panicking, your first priority would be to check for any injuries and then get him out of the site ASAP. A practical, firm yet considerate demeanor, a few soothing words, and actionable advice would help the person calm down.
2. What would you do to help a member of your team stuck inside a fire?
Every member of the team has a role to play in putting out fires – some drive the truck around, some hold the water pipes, while others enter the building to rescue the people trapped inside. Finding someone from your team in trouble shouldn’t get you all panicky. Focus on approaching the problem with a calm mind; consider the pros and cons of the situation before taking any decision.
3. How would you care for an unconscious person?
Someone who’s trapped inside a burning site for long might lose consciousness due to the prolonged exposure to the fumes and the heat. Your first and foremost priority, in this case, would be to get them out in the open as fast as possible. Take a few of your team members, a first-aid kit and a stretcher/harness with you. You can mention a personal experience or example where you were part of the rescue team and how you and your team saved the unconscious person.
Bonus Question: Will you willingly disobey your seniors? If so, then why?
In the firefighting profession, disobeying a direct order can have some really serious consequences not just for you but also the people around you. The purpose of this question is to check how alert you are to your surroundings. Scenario questions like these also check your understanding and analytical skills. It also shows your respect and trust in the authorities. However, if your senior is asking you to do something that’s illegal or unethical, you’d have to apply your discretion.
The profession calls for passion, patience, and perseverance. Role-specific questions give you an opportunity to express how you feel about the job. Be as expressive and honest as possible to convince them why you should be a part of their firefighting team. Show them your sensitive side. Here are some of the typical fire rescue interview questions you should prepare for.
4. Why do you want to be a firefighter?
Interviewers love this question! Don’t just say that you like the profession. Instead, focus on your history with the industry. Share your personal experiences with the panel, about how you helped rescue people and take control of the situation during emergencies. Talk about the challenges and rewards involved in the job. This is also your chance to show how passionate, loyal, dedicated and capable you are of protecting the community.
5. Will you be able to handle the long work hours?
Fires can breakout anytime anywhere. You can get a call from work any time of the day or night and you have to report immediately. Usually, firefighters follow a schedule of four-day work and four-day rest system. Irregular work hours can be taxing on your personal life. Tell them that you’ve thought it out and have a plan to tackle the unpredictable and unconventional work hours and shifts. Mention how supportive your friends and family are, giving you the confidence to manage the stress of the workplace without worrying about home.
6. What do you think will be the biggest challenges you’d face at work?
As a firefighter, you have to handle a lot of things both on and off-site. One of the biggest challenges would be to gel in with your teammates and work together harmoniously. Each member has a different temperament and approach to the problem. The second challenge would be to manage your personal and professional life.
7. What are your priorities as a firefighter?
Fighting fires can be exhausting both mentally and physically. It’s difficult to keep track of events and keep calm when you’re responsible for taking care of people’s lives. Getting people out of the site should be your first priority. Then you can formulate a strategy to put out the fire. A sense of responsibility, pragmatism, physical fitness, and stamina, readiness to take risks, and teamwork are a few of the qualities a good firefighter should have. So make sure that your answer showcases that you possess these qualities.
Bonus question: What piece of firefighting equipment do you find most difficult to handle and why?
This is a very subjective question, the answer varying from person to person. Some candidates can find the physically taxing tools difficult to handle while others might have a problem in understanding the advanced electronic equipment used. Either way, once you have told them your weakness, make attempts to amend it. Show a willingness to learn and master the said firefighting tool.
In the firefighter oral interview, the panel might also ask you some fire rescue management questions to check your technical knowledge and physical prowess. Here are some of the most common operational questions you might have to face.
8. Tell us something about your technical training?
Firefighting doesn’t just involve physical training but also technical expertise in medicine and first-aid. There are a number of services and education programs that specifically cater to entry-level fire engineers and train them in handling the equipment, taking care of the victims and providing immediate medical assistance. Mention the paid and unpaid public service projects you were part of in your college days.
9. Have you done volunteer work?
Having some experience in the field always pays well. All the technical know-how and theory can never really prepare you for what’s out there. You have to use your common sense and logic to quickly analyze the situation and make a plan on the spot. Talk about the paid and unpaid volunteer work you’ve done so far. You can even throw in a few anecdotes that highlight your physical and mental fitness in emergency situations.
10. What suggestions do you have about improving the current fire prevention programs?
Fire prevention and public education are crucial areas that every fire agency tries to work on and improve. Your suggestion in this area would not only show your technical expertise but also your dedication to the profession. The interview panel wants to understand and imagine what you can contribute to the agency. Talk about the current programs and informative campaigns in action. Stress on the importance of educating children and creating awareness through school events, fire drills, fire extinguishing hacks, first-aid tips.
11. What is the biggest issue faced by the fire department in your city?
Now, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. The panel wants to see how well-read and aware you are of the state’s policies, practices, and problems concerning fire prevention. A well-thought-out response would cover all the main aspects of firefighting and also highlight the challenges that firefighters face. Lack of consistent water supply and electricity, traffic jams, budgetary cuts, and lack of public awareness can be a few points you can talk about.
12. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
The political, economic, and social scenario of the state impacts almost every industry. No one can predict what would happen in the near or distant future. That doesn’t mean you quit planning and leave everything to fate, right? The panel here wants to see how serious you are about your job. It also shows how your awareness about the dynamics of a firefighter’s job and your willingness to adapt accordingly.
Sample Behavioral Questions for Firefighter Interview
Firefighters don’t just put out fires, but also rescue and comfort the residents trapped in the building. Sometimes you also would have to deal with cranky, anxious, scared, and violent people or animals. Under such dire circumstances, you cannot afford to lose your cool. Behavioral questions check your presence of mind in dealing with emergencies
13. How would you deal with the pressures and responsibilities of the profession?
Firefighting is not always gallant and glamorous as portrayed by the media. In reality, the job is dangerous, dirty, and very risky. As a firefighter, you’re responsible for the lives of people who’re stuck in the fire. Follow the orders of your seniors, respect authorities, work with your team and always be alert – there are a few things that would help you handle the pressures of the job.
14. Tell us about an incident where you witnessed or were part of a conflict with your teammates?
Being part of a team can be quite a challenge, especially when you have to work together in life-threatening situations. A difference of opinion, conflicts and serious arguments are all part and parcel of your job. The trick is to not crack under the stress but try and empathize with the other person and understand his point of view.
15. Tell us about a time when you made a mistake. How did you rectify the situation?
Admitting to your mistakes can be an embarrassing experience for many. However, we’re only human, we all have our weaknesses. Accepting and acknowledging a past mistake only highlights your honesty and integrity of character. Talk about a situation where you failed in your job properly. Also mention what you rectified your error, what you learned from it, and how it made you a better more competent firefighter.
The Bottom Line
Rescuing people from burning buildings is definitely not child’s play. This profession exposes people to a lot of emergencies. No wonders, firefighters require immense patience and sensitivity. Keep your answers concise and to the point. Show that you have the correct motivation and determination to do what it takes to save people’s lives. Good Luck!