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Firefighter Pre-Screening Process FAQ

General questions

What is the difference between pre-hire qualifications and minimum qualifications?

​The minimum qualifications are the qualifications you must already have before you apply. Pre-hire qualifications are the qualifications that applicants must have to be presented with a conditional job offer from the CFD.  Click here to view our qualifications.

Note: Applicants who have some or all of the pre-hire qualifications before they apply are considered more competitive than applicants who apply with only the minimum qualifications.

I’ve heard about the treadmill test. When does that happen in the process?

​The IAFF Wellness Fitness Initiative (WFI) treadmill test happens during your pre-employment medical.  Passing this test is a condition of the job offer and happens during Step 10 of the process.  More information about the treadmill test is available here.

Applications

How long will it take me to make it all the way through the pre-screen process?

​There are 10 steps an applicant must complete to be offered a job with the Calgary Fire Department (CFD). Due to the high number of applications we receive and the number of steps in the process, it can take six months or longer to successfully work through the process to the Eligibility List.

I’m from out of town, how many times will I have to travel to Calgary while I’m going through the pre-screen process?

​You will need to come here for the following steps:

  • Aptitude test
  • Interview
  • Polygraph
  • Pre-hire medical / fitness assessment

If you are outside of driving distance to Calgary, the PHS Review can be done by phone. The CPAT can be taken from providers in your region of the country if they are approved by CFD.

When can I apply?

​Keep checking calgary.ca/fire for information on when we are accepting applications. Once the application window opens, you are welcome to apply.

Can I apply if I haven’t completed all of the minimum qualifications for application?

​No. We only accept applications from people who have completed all of our minimum qualifications before they apply.

Will I need to include a driver’s abstract with my application package?

​Wait until you receive a request from us.  If you get this done too soon, it will not be valid for our process and it won’t be accepted.

Do I need to include uploads of my certifications and qualifications when I apply?

​No, you will be asked to upload these documents after you are successful at the aptitude test.

I met all of the minimum qualifications to apply, but I was told after applying that I was not competitive, why?

​The minimum qualifications to apply are just that, the minimum.  If our application pool has enough qualified people, we may choose to only accept applications from people who have our pre-hire qualifications or who have prior experience and/or training. 

Remember: this is a competitive process.

I filled out the candidate questionnaire but I was removed from the process, why?

​Our candidate questionnaire identifies any areas that are outside of our acceptable parameters. Be very careful when filling out the questionnaire as mistakenly checking the wrong box can result in your file being closed.

Aptitude

Do you offer aptitude testing anywhere else besides Calgary?

​No, you will have to make arrangements to come to Calgary to write your aptitude test.

Can you recommend any aptitude test study guides?

​We don’t endorse any particular study guide, but our supplier has provided an aptitude test preparation guide.

Should I bring my documents to the aptitude test?

​All you need is your government ID, water, and a light snack; do not bring anything else.  Calculators are not allowed.

Will you tell me my aptitude test score?

​We will tell you if you have passed or failed, but we do not release scores.

How long does the test take?

​Candidates are given three (3) hours and fifteen (15) minutes to complete the test.

What does dressing business casual mean?

​For information on what dressing business casual means, click here.

How long does it take to get the results of my aptitude test?

​Typically we are able to inform applicants within three (3) weeks of when they write the exam.

If I passed the aptitude test in the past, do I have to take it again?

​You will not be required to write the test if you successfully passed it within the last year.

Document review

I can’t find my childhood immunization records, what should I do?

​Go to your local public health clinic and ask for a blood test to prove immunity for:

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Hepatitis B

If you can’t remember when you last had a diptheria/tetanus/pertussis shot, make arrangements to have one administered.  It is recommended that this shot be administered every 8 years.

I can see the Personal History Statement (PHS) on your website, but I can’t print it.

​The PHS that is posted on the website is there for your information only. When you are invited to write the aptitude test, you will receive a version of the PHS that you can fill in. 

How much information should I include when I fill out the PHS?

​We want you to write everything that you can think of going all the way back as far as you can remember. The more thorough you are in the PHS, the better it will be for you when you reach the pre-employment polygraph step.

Why do I have to fill out a PHS?

​Firefighting is a career that demands a huge amount of personal integrity. There is also a high level of trust between firefighters and the public we serve.The PHS is one of the ways we screen applicants to ensure that they will live up to the standards set by the CFD.

Do I e-mail these documents to recruitment?

​No, we will instruct you on when and how to upload all of your supporting documents to your online applicant file. We do not accept documents sent directly to us.

Personal history statement review

I already filled out my PHS so why do I have to go through a PHS review before my polygraph?

​The PHS review is intended to ensure the applicant understood all of the questions in the PHS and answered them completely.  As well, this is when we will prepare you for your polygraph examination.

Pre-Pre-Employment polygraph examination

Why do I have to take a pre-employment polygraph exam?

​A polygraph exam is a tool to verify you are who you claim to be and to confirm your truthfulness on your application, PHS, and any other information you provide to us. It assists in identifying applicants who display honesty, accountability, and overall suitability for employment with the CFD.

What questions will I be asked?

​The questions you will be asked will be similar to or the same as those asked in the PHS.  They will cover your driving and insurance history, alcohol and drug use, credit history, school and employment habits, integrity, and criminal activity/associations.

How long will the exam take?

​Plan to be on site for approximately 2 to 4 hours.  The time varies per individual.

How does the polygraph work?

​Polygraphs are sensitive recording devices that typically measure changes in a person’s breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration. Throughout questioning, signals from the sensors that are connected to the body will record these changes. When a person knowingly tells a lie or otherwise attempts deception, it appears in the polygraph chart tracings. Before the test, the examiner will explain in detail how the polygraph works and will answer any questions you may have.

Will my nervousness affect the results (make it seem like I’m lying)?

It is natural for an applicant to be nervous at this step in the process. The examiner can recognize the difference between someone who is simply nervous and someone who is being intentionally deceitful. The important thing to remember is to disclose everything when completing your PHS and then disclose everything to the examiner during your polygraph exam.

What if I forgot to include something on my PHS?

​Anything you remember can be submitted to the Firefighter Recruitment Department. We will provide you with a form and specific instructions on how to use it at the appropriate time.

What if I remember something during the polygraph that I didn’t disclose in my PHS and didn’t tell Recruitment about before my exam?

​Tell the examiner all that you remember. The examiner will have you make note of any additional information, have you sign it, and then he will provide it to Recruitment along with his report. It’s better to ensure you have a successful polygraph in terms of honesty rather than trying to hide something because you know you forgot to provide it initially. All additional information will be reviewed by Recruitment personnel and an assessment will be made on whether you will move forward in the process.

How should I prepare for the exam?

​If you have been truthful in providing Recruitment personnel with full details, you should have nothing to be concerned about.  Get a good night’s rest, eat, and take in plenty of fluids on the day of your exam.

Does the examiner decide if I’m successful or not?

​The role of the examiner is to assess the truthfulness of your responses during your exam. He will tell you if he was able to attain conclusive results based on your honesty during the testing procedure. He will then forward a report of the results to Recruitment who will assess the results and decide whether you will move forward in the process. The examiner is not involved in the decision of whether you will be moving forward in the process or not.

Candidate physical ability test (CPAT)

Do I have to come to Calgary to take the CPAT?

​No, we generally recognize CPAT’s provided by any testing facility in Canada that is accredited by the IAAF. The IAFF has a list of facilities.  Final approval of the facility you choose will be made by our CPAT administrator.

How long is my CPAT certificate valid?

​Your CPAT certificate is valid for one year so you should wait until we tell you to book your testing. If you complete your testing at our CFD facility and your CPAT certification lapses, you will not be charged for a retest at our facility.

Selection Committee

How long does it take to get through the Selection Committee?

​During a typical pre-screen process, from the time you finish your polygraph exam until your name goes to Selection Committee, may be 2 to 3 months. Once scheduled, the Selection Committee step takes one day; you will be notified of their decision shortly after that.

What happens if I am unsuccessful at the Selection Committee step?

You are usually allowed to reapply at our next application intake.  This would mean starting over from the beginning.

Eligibility list

How long would I be on the eligibility list?

​This depends on the number of people on the list and how often the Fire Chief calls for a class.

Does this list get scrubbed at the end of each year?

​Currently, if you get on this list, we will keep your file there until your name comes up to start a recruit class.  This is subject to change at the discretion of the Fire Chief.

Conditional job offer

How much notice will I get before I’m expected to start training?

​We will try to give you 8 - 10 weeks notice.

What does training cost?

​There is no cost. On the first day of recruit training, you become a paid City of Calgary employee and will be eligible for benefits.

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