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Your Fire Career in Massachusetts Begins Here

We want to make sure you have everything you need to prepare for the exams.

Table of Contents

Learn how to become a firefighter in a Massachusetts Civil Service Department

Being a firefighter is a meaningful way to serve a community. As a firefighter, you will be a public servant responsible for responding to fires and other emergency situations in your community.  You often respond to risky and physically demanding calls and work shifts that operate around the clock with your fellow firefighters.

First step to become a firefighter is to take the Municipal Firefighter Exam. Check the exam schedule to find the next exam being offered. Requirement to take the exam is;

You do not need to be a resident of Massachusetts to take the exam. More detailed information can be found on the Firefighter exam poster.

The firefighter exam consists of two components which make up your total score; a written test and an Entry-Level Physical Ability Test (ELPAT). You must take and pass both the written test and ELPAT (Entry-Level Physical Ability Test) to receive a final score. For more information, take a look at FAQ for Firefighter ELPAT

Next, after taking the written test and ELPAT, your name will be placed on the eligible list. When a fire department is ready to hire, they request the eligible list and the Civil Service Unit sends a list of names.

If your name is reached, the hiring process will begin and may include the following;

  • complete an extensive employment packet
  • thorough background check
  • interview

If you are offered a job you can expect to first complete the following as part of the conditional offer of employment;

Once you have successfully passed the medical exam and PAT as well as any additional requirements from the department, you will begin your new rewarding career as a firefighter.

firefighter in training at MAssachusetts Fire Academy


Frequently Asked Questions for the Firefighter Exam

Q: Am I qualified to take the Firefighter exam? 

A: Any entrance qualifications and requirements for the position will be listed on the exam announcement. Please carefully review these qualifications and requirements to be sure you meet them before you apply.

Q: How do I apply for the Firefighter exam? 

A: Read the Firefighter exam poster and apply online when it is available.

Q: When will the Firefighter exam be open?

A: Please check the Civil Service Exam Schedule periodically. The exam schedule is continuously being updated.

Q: What are components of the written test?

A: The written test has 3 parts, each measuring qualities that are important to succeed as an entry-level firefighter:

  • Written Ability Test (WAT) — Evaluates cognitive abilities essential to performing a firefighter’s responsibilities, including verbal expression, verbal comprehension, problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and information ordering
  • Work Styles Questionnaire (WSQ) — Assesses certain motivational, value-related, and attitudinal characteristics that can help firefighter succeed
  • Life Experience Survey (LES) — Consists of a series of multiple-choice questions related to candidates’ past history and experience that are relevant to the duties of a civil servant

You can use the Firefighter Written Test Preparation Guide to find out more about the exam process, learn test-taking techniques, and practice with sample questions.

Q: After I apply for the exam how will I know when and where to take the written test?

A: Two weeks before the written test date you will receive a notice to appear by email. The notice will tell you the location and the time to appear for your written test. Please check your junk or spam mail folder for the e-mail before contacting the Civil Service office.

Q: Is there an opportunity to preview the ELPAT?

A: Yes, information will be provided once an applicant has been scheduled for their ELPAT.

Q: What are the ELPAT events?

A: Please see our website for the Firefighter Physical Ability Test Preparation Guide detailing
each event.

Q: What date will my ELPAT be scheduled for?

A: Your ELPAT date will be scheduled by the Civil Service Unit. You will receive a detailed Notice to Appear approximately 2 weeks before your scheduled ELPAT.

Q: I can't attend my scheduled ELPAT date, can I re-schedule?

A: With the exception of current military personnel who cannot be in Massachusetts on the
scheduled date of the ELPAT, no applicant has a right to a makeup exam due to personal or professional conflicts on the testing date. If you are unable to appear for your scheduled ELPAT date due to an emergency or unanticipated hardship, you may request a makeup date, by sending an email to elpat@mass.gov with verifiable documentation to the Civil Service Unit no later than 7 calendar days from the originally scheduled date. The Civil Service Unit reserves the right to approve OR deny your request and may require an additional exam processing fee upon approval of your request. Such requests will be processed on a first-come first served basis.

Q: What happens if I fail to attend my scheduled ELPAT?

A: You will automatically fail the Firefighter exam and will not be placed on an eligible

Q: When will I receive my exam results?

A: Results will be emailed to you as soon as they are available.

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