Dealing with Situational Judgment Questions on an Entry-Level Firefighter Aptitude Test

by | Sep 6, 2022 | 0 comments

In this BLOG, we will look at some more content from our Amazon Best Selling recruitment guidebook publication titled “So You Want to Be a Firefighter Eh?” which is Canada’s largest, most comprehensive book ever written on the fire service hiring process. 

The fire service is looking for candidates who have the mindset to respond in any situation, whether it is an emergency or non-emergency, either in the fire station or when dealing with the public. Let’s take a look at the right approach when answering these questions on a fire department aptitude test.  

Many questions will be asked on the various firefighter aptitude tests including the CPS, OS, FACT, and SJT assessments among others. Many of today’s fire service tests focus heavily on assessments involving interpersonal relations, human relations, and personal characteristics. A firefighter’s judgment and interpersonal skills are based on a set of qualities, values, character traits, and empathy required to make some difficult decisions. This not only counts when it comes to decisions on the fireground, but those decisions that may occur back in the fire station in a non-emergency situation or when casually dealing with your crew members. 

As firefighters, we need to always try and do the right thing, even if none of our coworkers were watching. We need to work each day to act with the utmost integrity, professionalism, and respect and be the firefighter that your company officer and crew would respect and count on in any situation. These are instilling the values and traditions of the fire service. Firefighters are always expected to do their job in a professional manner; this involves treating others with courtesy and respect while showing concern for your fellow firefighters and the public. When dealing with an officer and given an order, you must always obey it and if another firefighter asks for your assistance, you should go out of your way to help them. Following a few of these key tips also keeps working relationships in the fire station harmonious. 

We already know that many of these emergency scene decisions can be based on the overall hierarchy and understanding of the three basic firefighter priorities:

  1. Life Safety
  2. Rescue & Incident Mitigation
  3. Property Conservation

You will be asked questions on the fire service aptitude tests regarding specific workplace ethics and conflict, situations involving safety, crew member communications, taking orders from your officer in charge, working in teams, and basic leadership skills. There will be questions asking your opinions on human rights issues. You will need to interpret areas of interpersonal relations regarding dealing with others including the public, your fellow firefighters, and those above you in rank. These questions can be based on the following situations: dealing with the public, fire station life, emergency response and fire ground scenarios, general safety and training scenarios, and problem solving. These questions will be asked in multiple choice formats on your fire service aptitude tests. To do well on this section of the test, it is imperative that the candidate showcase strong communication skills, understand emergency response priorities, have the ability to work well in teams, ability to own up to their own mistakes, understand the chain of command, and demonstrate honesty and integrity. These questions will better assess your behavioral- based soft skills and dictate if you are a strong fit for their fire department, based on how you answer these questions. Strong interpersonal relations can be categorized into the four main areas listed below. This list provides a general framework to use when answering questions on this subject. 

  • Personal accountability as a firefighter
  • Concern for your personal safety
  • Understanding the chain of command
  • Concern for your fellow firefighters

It is also best to review the general framework for any type of emergency response, as you may find a few questions on the test that require knowledge in this area.

General Framework for Decision-Making by a Firefighter

  • Protect life or limb
  • Listen and obey any emergency scene orders using the chain of command
  • Protect property
  • Assist with any other activities including assisting police or EMS, managing equipment, dealing with the public or training

General Framework for Decision-Making during an Emergency Response

  • Create a safe working area and perimeter – scene assessment for safety
  • Call for additional resources – fire, police, EMS, public works, site managers
  • Treat any life-threatening or high priority injuries – deadly bleeds, breathing etc.
  • Treat more minor injuries – minor bleeds, burns, minor broken bones
  • Assist allied agencies – work to help to restore normal order at the scene

You may encounter example test questions as seen below:

You receive an order from your captain on the fireground, but the instructions weren’t too clear. Would you…

a. complete the order given?

b. ask the captain to repeat himself because you do not understand?

c. act quickly and do what you thought you heard?

d. do the task as best as you can?

2. What is the best way to establish good relations with your fellow firefighters?

a. become interested and cooperative in the fire station.

b. prove how well you can listen.

c. arrive to work an hour before each shift.

d. always perform tasks before other firefighters do.

3. If another firefighter who is not your company officer tries to give you a direct order on a fire scene, how should you proceed?

a. complete the order.

b. tell them to leave you alone.

c. thank them and reconfirm with your officer.

d. ignore the order.

4. You receive a phone call from a member of the public asking about your actions at a recent fire? You should…

a. hang up the phone.

b. answer the person to the best of your ability.

c. listen to their issue and transfer the phone call to your captain.

d. advise them to speak with the fire investigator.

5. Your captain was unhappy with how you and another firefighter checked the medical equipment in the morning. You should tell the captain…

a. that your crew mate was responsible for checking the medical equipment.

b. nothing about who checked it, but that you would do a better job next time.

c. do nothing.

d. tell him you had to do it quickly to get everything done.

1(b); 2(a); 3(c); 4(c); 5(b).Check out our website at to purchase our brand new Entry-Level Firefighter Aptitude Test Study Manual which is designed to assist the candidate in a variety of fire department assessments to maximize your aptitude test score for today’s most current fire service assessments.

Adam McFadden is a former recruit training officer, current professional firefighter and hazmat technician and for one of the largest fire departments in Canada, and Amazon Best-Selling Author for his fire service recruitment guidebook “So you Want to be a Firefighter Eh?” He is the owner of Firehouse Training and is responsible for program development of various career coaching and fire service training programs.  Adam has taught has assisted hundreds of students across Canada; navigate through the fire department hiring and recruitment process.

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