Let’s talk about OFAI Candidate Testing and how to pass the NFST firefighter test. I’ve had literally 20 phone calls this week with questions about this process for Ontario Firefighter Testing Preparation regarding the Ontario Fire Administration Candidate Testing Certificate.

First I will post the specific steps involved directly from the OFAI website and then discuss the main question I received from the calls….

Here is the formal information from OFAI:

In order to be eligible for consideration for employment in a fire department within the Ontario fire service, the following IS required:

Must be 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
Legally entitled to work for any employer in Canada (citizen/landed immigrants).
Free of any criminal convictions for which a pardon has not been granted.
Possess an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD –Grade 12) or academic equivalency.
Ability to work on rotating shifts, including nights, weekends and holidays.
Speak, read and write English fluently, and communicate clearly and precisely under demanding, high-pressure.
Have a Standard First Aid certificate and a CPR level HCP (for Health Care Providers) dated not more than 12 months prior to the closing date of application and maintained current within 12 months throughout the recruitment and selection process.

In order to be eligible for consideration for employment in a fire department within the Ontario fire service, a municipality MAY require you to have the following credentials.

Please note that each municipality in the province of Ontario is responsible for their own hiring criteria and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that they are aware of the hiring criteria when submitting an application for employment.

Pre-Service Fire Fighter Education & Training Program Certification, OR
NFPA 1001 Fire Fighter I & II certified from an accredited program from a recognized institution, accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) or the Pro Board, OR
OFM curriculum components 1,2 and 3 with examination certificate, OR
Minimum two years experience as a full-time firefighter in a municipal fire department, OR
Minimum five years experience as a part-time firefighter in a municipal fire department.
Possession and maintenance of a valid unrestricted Ontario Class “G” Driver’s License. Eligibility will depend on the candidate having no more that two (2) infractions (maximum of one moving and one non-moving conviction).
Some municipal fire services ask for an Ontario “D-Z” driver’s licence at the time of application and/or within a timeframe of the hiring date. Applicants with more than 6 demerit points are ineligible for consideration. Please note that it is the candidate’s responsibility to obtain this licence. Costs associated with obtaining the Ontario “D-Z” driver’s licence will be incurred by the candidate. If you have a “D-Z” licence, you must have fewer than three (3) CVOR demerit points and/or infractions three years prior to start date.
Tread water or swim test.

Experience and qualifications that serve as an asset in your application can include:

Completion of higher-level EMS First Aid and/or medical training.
A minimum of one year of prior full-time work experience, fire suppression, construction, trades, mechanical, emergency medical, large vehicle operation or fire prevention related experience.
Fluency in a second language or sign language.·
Community service involvement.

All applicants to a career firefighter position within the Ontario fire service are required to complete a series of tests to be considered eligible to perform safely and competently as a firefighter in Ontario.

These tests may include aptitude and interpersonal skills tests, vision and hearing screening, physical (clinical) testing and some form of technical skills testing..

In order to be eligible for consideration for employment in a municipal fire department within the Ontario fire service, you are required to:

Have uncorrected 20/30 vision in each eye without corrective
Normal colour vision
Normal unaided hearing

The Firefighter Testing OFAI Certification Steps:

Stage One – National Fire Select Test
Stage Two, Part One – Medical Screening
Stage Two, Part Two – Clinical Assessment
CPAT Orientation (optional)
Stage Three, Part One – Candidate Physical Ability Test
Stage Three, Part Two – Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment

So….to the questions I most commonly get asked:

First, the written test:

The entry-level firefighter test consists of two sections: a general aptitude test and a personality inventory. The NFST includes:

Reading Ability
Mathematical Reasoning
Map Reading
Writing Ability
Human Relations (to include: interpersonal skills, teamwork, commitment, honesty,integrity, emotional stability)
Reasoning Skills (to include: reasoning, vocabulary, mechanical aptitude, and spatial rotation)

To prepare for the NFST firefighter test, you can register on our website.

The National Fire Select Test™ is completed in a proctored classroom environment in a computer lab. Candidates are required to complete the test in two hours and thirty minutes. This test is valid for a period of 24 months. If you do not pass the National Fire Select Test, you may re-take it after thirty days. An orientation guide can be purchased to assist you in preparation for this test.The National Fire Select Test results in either a pass/fail. Candidates are not given feedback in regards to the results of the test. You can take a practice National Fire Select Test™ here.

Candidates will not receive a mark. In addition, municipal fire services are not given results.

How to prepare? Most candidates who do not prepare or who have written this type of test under pressure will fail – math is the main reason, time constraints and simply not being ready all combine for a failure – do yourself a favour and prepare, and prepare early!

Now the second most commonly asked question, how to I prepare for Stage 3 – Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment.

This is a MAJOR failure point for candidates. Why? Because it requires practice and familiarity with PPE and common skills and if you haven’t been in an active fire department as a volunteer or in pre-service, you will likely have a lot of trouble with this.

I can suggest and DO HIGHLY suggest that you take a refresher course at FESTI – Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute – LINK: https://elearning.festi.ca/festi/views/cart/products/125.html

Here are the details for Stage 3:

Stage Three, Part Two – Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment

The Firefighter Technical Skills Assessments are based on of Bona Fide Occupational Requirements based on NFPA 1001 Firefighter I & II. Each candidate will be given specific instructions and MUST perform each evolution as per the evaluator instructions and in the safest manner possible. Candidates will move through each evolution in the same order. Each evolution has a time limit of 10 minutes. You must pass each evolution skill to receive a final pass to obtain your OFAI certificate. The Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment is valid for 12 months. If you are not successful in this assessment, candidates can register to re-take this assessment after thirty days.

Pre-appraisal screening

All candidates will participate in the pre-appraisal screening before continuing with the Stage Three Assessments. A series of questions will be asked by the medical officer. In addition, the ParQPlus form, and if required, Physician Physical Activity Readiness Clearance form must be completed to identify those candidates for whom certain physical activities might be inappropriate. Anyone answering YES to any questions on the ParQPlus Form MUST get their Physician to complete at Physician Physical Activity Readiness Clearance form before they can continue with testing.

ParQPlus Form

Physician Physical Activity Readiness Clearance Form

Candidate’s heart rate and blood pressure are measured prior to proceeding.Candidates will not be permitted to participate in the clinical assessment if their resting heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute. The last component of the pre-appraisal screening involves measuring the candidates resting blood pressure. Resting blood pressure will be measured using a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope.Candidates will not be permitted to participate in the clinical assessment if their resting systolic blood pressure measurement is greater than 140 mm Hg and/or their resting diastolic blood pressure is greater than 90 mm Hg. Candidates are given three blood pressure readings. If after the first measurement, you may be asked to rest in the cafeteria and come back in a specific time. If after the third reading and your blood pressure is still high, you will not be able to participate.

Once each component of the pre-appraisal screening is successfully completed, the candidate is cleared to participate in Stage Three assessment.

Please Note: In order for candidates to be successful in the Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment, some form of formal firefighter training should be completed to complete the six evolutions.

Please Also Note: Candidate will be required to perform all of the evolutions dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Candidates may bring their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If you do not have your own, we have many types and sizes available. It will be up to each candidate to ensure they have the proper PPE and that it is donned properly.

SCBA will be provided on-site

The six evolutions and descriptions are described below. They are in the order in which you take the assessment:

Skill1: 10 Metre Ladder Climb

Each candidate must be dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for this skill test. Candidates will use the following equipment:

Bunker gear, helmet and gloves
10m ladder tied off to balcony railing
Pick head axe
Safety Harness
You will be required to wear a safety harness for this skill. Candidates must prepare the axe for lifting using the appropriate rope & clove hitch knot. You will climb a ladder until you encounter a rung with tape wrapped around it and apply a leg lock around the taped rung. Turn your lower foot outwards, let go both hands and touch your toes. Climb to the 3rd floor balcony and step off the ladder and on to the balcony. Lift axe up to balcony and then lower back to the ground. Climb back onto the ladder and descend.

Skill 2: Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Proficiency Test

Each candidate must be dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with a SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and a blacked out face mask for this skill test. Candidates will use the following equipment:

Bunker gear, helmet and gloves, flash hood
SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus)
Blacked out face mask
Don SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and a blacked out face mask. Approach SCBA Proficiency structure, on air, enter the structure when indicated to do so and perform proper search technique through the entire maze passing each obstacle as they are encountered. Exit at the point of entry, once the proper search has been completed. Do not attempt to stand up while inside maze. At any point you feel uncomfortable inside the maze please indicate so to your evaluator. For assessment purposes the evaluator will accompany you to observe you.

Skill 3: Roof Ventilation

Each candidate must be dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) for this skill test. Candidates will use the following equipment:

Bunker gear, helmet and gloves
Roof ladder
Pick head axe
Pike pole
The candidate must wear full personal protective equipment with SCBA on air to perform this skill. You must choose the equipment needed to ventilate the roof. Positioned on the roof, demonstrate making adequate openings in the structure for ventilation purposes by cutting a 22” x 22” vent hole. Simulates opening the ceiling using the axe or pike pole. Returns to the ground and replaces tools at the starting position. For assessment purposes the evaluator will stay at the foot of the roof simulator and observe you.

Skill 4: 7 Metre Ladder Roof Ladder Raise

Each candidate must be dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for this skill test. Candidates will use the following equipment:

Bunker gear, helmet and gloves
One 7m ladder
One roof ladder
You must be dressed in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for this skill test. Using proper lifting techniques, pick up the 7m ladder and do a one firefighter raise with the assistance of a staff member at the butt of the ladder for safety reasons. Position the ladder to gain access to the roof with a roof ladder. Once the ladder is in place, switch positions with the staff member, untie the halyard and raise the fly to the correct height. Set the correct angle of the ladder and tie off the halyard using a clove hitch over the rung and halyard. Climb the ladder with a roof ladder, apply a leg lock and properly place the roof ladder on the peak of the roof. FESTI staff will secure the tip of the ladder to ensure that it does not slide.

Skill 5: Fine Motor Skills Hose Assembly

Each candidate must be dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for this skill test. Candidates will use the following equipment:

1 length of 100mm hose
2 lengths of 65mm hose
1 length of 45mm hose
2 gated wyes (100mm to two 65mm and 65mm to two 38mm)
45mm combination nozzle
65mm nozzle
Make all connections with the appropriate hose and appliances provided in the timeliest manner possible.

With the hose and appliances provided, establish a water supply from a 100mm hose to two 65mm hoses.

One 65mm hose will terminate with a 65mm nozzle. The other 65 mm hose will terminate with a gated wye reduced to two 38mm discharges.

One 45mm attack line must be attached to the 38mm gated wye and terminated with a combination nozzle on the end.

Skill #6 – Medical Skills

Each candidate must be dressed properly in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for this skill test.

In order to successfully complete this skills test, candidates must have the training and competence required to insert a properly sized oropharyngeal airway, operate a bag valve mask, apply an adult non-re-breather mask and describe the oxygen flow rate or concentration required.

You will be instructed to perform the following emergency medical skills.

Patient Assessment/Management – Trauma skills

In this skill, you will perform your assessment and “voice” treatment for all conditions and injuries discovered. You should conduct your assessment as you would in the field, including communicating with your Simulated Patient.

You may remove the Simulated Patient’s clothing down to his/her shorts or swimsuit if you feel it is necessary. As you progress through this skill, you should state everything you are assessing. Specific clinical information not obtainable by visual or physical inspection, for example blood pressure, will be given to you only when you ask following demonstration of how you would normally obtain that information in the field.

You may assume you have two (2) partners working with you who are trained to your level of care. They will correctly perform the verbal treatments you indicate necessary.

Evaluator will acknowledge your treatments and may ask you for additional information if clarification is needed.

Bag-Valve-Mask Ventilation Of an Apneic Adult Patient

This skill is designed to evaluate your ability to provide immediate and aggressive ventilatory assistance to an apneic adult patient who has no other associated injuries.

This is a non-trauma situation and cervical precautions are not necessary. You are required to demonstrate sequentially all procedures you would perform, from simple maneuvers, suctioning, adjuncts, and ventilation with a BVM.

You must actually ventilate the manikin for at least one (1) minute with each adjunct and procedure utilized.

The evaluator will serve as your trained assistant and will be interacting with you throughout this skill. Evaluator will correctly carry-out your orders upon your direction.

Important to Note: You will be asked before each evolution if you understand the directions and if you would like to voluntary withdraw.

Please note that Ontario Fire Administration Inc. reserves the right to change the order of the Firefighter Technical Skills at any time due to weather and logistics.

Cost: $250.00 plus HST

Here is the link for OFAI: http://www.ofai.ca/

I do highly suggest that while the opportunities for getting a full time career firefighter job has certainly never been this great, the competition is most certainly much greater – and – the costs of testing much higher. MAKE SURE YOU PREPARE EARLY AND OFTEN!!!

Best of luck in your career! Have a question – ask me!

For Firefighter Test Preparation for the NFTS for OFAI Visit: https://www.testreadypro.com/products/firefighter-course/