The Basics Of A Fire Service Aptitude Test

by | Dec 9, 2020 | 0 comments

In this BLOG, we will give a basic description of various firefighter tests available across the country for those that are not familiar with some of the more common assessments out there.

What are the types of firefighter aptitude tests a candidate can take in Canada?

The CPS Cooperative Personnel Services Test, OS Occupational Screening Assessment, NFST National Fire Select Test & FACT Firefighter Aptitude and Character Test are currently the most common throughout the country. Let’s explore a few of them with a brief overview below.

Cooperative Personnel Services Test (CPS Aptitude Test)

The CPS Test (Cooperative Personnel Services) is a multiple-choice aptitude test. There are a total of 100 questions on the test, and candidates are given a time limit of 2-hours to complete the examination.

This test assesses your knowledge, skills, and aptitudes necessary to succeed as a firefighter in today’s environment. The test is a series of questions used to gauge your understanding of written and oral information, arithmetic, reasoning, maps, diagrams, and mechanical drawings. The written aptitude test has a time limit and the test consists of only multiple-choice questions. A passing score of 70 or higher is usually required. The specific sections on the test will include the oral passage, mathematics, mechanical aptitude, reading comprehension and dealing with people.

The Written Assessment Test (OS-Occupational Skills Assessment) is also referred to as the Gledhill-Shaw OS Firefighter Test or the Occupational Specific Firefighter (OSFF) test. Gledhill-Shaw Enterprise Ltd. is the service provider for firefighter tests of different Canadian fire departments. The three tests that they provide are the written aptitude test, the personal characteristics assessment test, and a physical test. These tests are sometimes referred to as the Gledhill-Shaw tests. The majority of this test consists of emergency response scenarios and workplace-related questions, which makes it slightly different from the CPS testing process. The Personal Characteristics Assessment Test (OS Test) serves as a functional characteristics readiness assessment that is essential for effective firefighter performance. A series of questions are asked relating to specific emergency scenarios and workplace environments, as well as basic mathematical and logical reasoning. The OS Firefighter Test has a time limit of 2 hours and 15 minutes, where you will have to answer 250 questions.

The NFST or FACT Test is an entry-level firefighter test consisting of various sections: a general aptitude test and a personality inventory. These tests include Reading and Writing Ability, Math, Human Relations and Personal Characteristics. This may consist of the focus on interpersonal skills, teamwork, commitment, honesty, integrity and emotional stability, to name a few. Recently, these tests have been focusing more heavily on the personal characteristic questions as a majority of the assessment process.

Ontario Fire Administration Inc. utilizes the National Fire Select Test™ and FACT Firefighter Aptitude and Character Test. This test is used for an entry-level firefighter recruitment process consisting of a variety of sub-tests designed to measure critical constructs required for successful job performance as a firefighter. The components of this test have been developed and validated by firefighters and fire captains who have experience performing the essential functions of the firefighter job. The entry-level firefighter test consists of two sections: a general aptitude test and a personality inventory. The tests include: Reading Ability, Mathematical Reasoning, Map Reading, Writing Ability, Human Relations, Reasoning Skills (includes reasoning, vocabulary, mechanical aptitude, and spatial rotation)

What can a candidate expect when writing any of these firefighter assessments?

The candidate shall always arrive one hour prior to the NFST or FACT testing to ensure adequate parking, complete any extra paperwork and sign-in. The candidate shall plan to complete that assessment for the next 4 hours. Always bring some water or snacks and dress appropriately. (Business casual is always recommended as there may be Chiefs in the area as well.) This assessment is completed in a proctored classroom environment in a computer lab. Candidates are required to complete the test in two hours and thirty minutes.

Questions may include various reading comprehension passages, along with follow-up questions to answer, mathematics including formal number conversions and calculations and word problems, human relations and judgment of character questions, writing ability such as sentence structures, spelling and grammar, directional and map reading exercises as well as mechanical reasoning diagrams and 3D graphics questions. This NFST and FACT test is done by computer only, while scrap paper is provided to the candidate for any notes or problem-solving.

In regards to the CPS/OS testing assessment, the candidate shall always arrive one hour prior to the CPS/OS testing to ensure adequate parking, complete any extra paperwork and sign-in. The candidate shall plan to be there to complete that assessments for the next 2-3 hours, including sign in and sign out. This test is a pencil and paper, and a scantron sheet marked process.

What should a candidate do to prepare for a firefighter aptitude test?

Candidates should continue to utilize sample aptitude tests available online, as well as hire a well-experienced firefighter recruitment career coach and tutor who specialize specifically in firefighter recruitment aptitude tests and hiring processes. A Firehouse Training career coach can assist the candidate in navigating the various practice tests, firefighter aptitude study manuals and guide them through the specifics of each style of firefighter recruitment testing. Many candidates find the best way to get better at the aptitude tests is through experience in writing them, by applying to various fire departments and participating in different recruit processes’’ to help to increase your odds of getting hired. This allows the candidate a better understanding of the types of questions asked and being aware of the time constraints for each style of test. Although this recommendation may be costly through various applications and involvement in the hiring process’ it is usually the experience in writing these tests that pay off in dividends. Contact Firehouse Training today and inquire about our aptitude test tutoring and career coaching services.

Adam McFadden is a career firefighter for one of the largest fire departments in Canada. He is the owner of Firehouse Training and is responsible for the program development of various professional fire service training courses and career coaching programs. Adam specializes in aptitude test tutoring for various firefighter and fire prevention assessment, and has assisted many students from across Canada.

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