Becoming a Full-time Firefighter

Most people investigating life as a firefighter have a lot of questions. Here are some answers to common questions to help you understand what you're getting into when beginning the process through to being hired.

How many positions are available?

  • The number of positions to fill is solely dependent upon the number of vacancies. This number may change as the testing dates and interview dates approach.

Is a pre-service firefighting course from a Community College required?

  • No. A pre-service firefighting course is not a requirement for the City of Hamilton.

How many successful candidates are volunteer firefighters?

  • Some successful candidates have been volunteer firefighters. This is not a pre-requisite or a requirement for employment as a career firefighter in Hamilton.

Will having laser eye surgery help in meeting the vision requirements?

  • Yes, depending on the success of your surgery and if you are able to meet requirements. The vision requirement of at least 20/30 in each eye without corrective lenses, has normal depth perception, and has colour vision. The decision to have laser surgery is solely that of the applicant.

Can I wear contact lenses to meet the necessary vision requirements?

  • No. The vision requirement of at least 20/30 in each eye without corrective lenses, has normal depth perception, and has colour vision.

During the recruitment process, can I update my resume with any additional courses that are completed?

  • Yes. You can update your resume online or you bring an updated version with you to the first interview.

Is a valid CPR and first aid certificate required at the time of application?

  • Yes. All candidates must have a valid basic rescuer or level "C" CPR certificate (minimum) and Standard First Aid certificate (minimum) at the time of application. Certifications must remain valid through the recruitment process to time of hire.

Is there a minimum height and weight requirement?

  • No.

Is there a second interview?

  • Yes. The first interview is a multiple mini interview (MMI). The second interview is a panel interview.

If you are self-employed, who do use for references?

  • Your resume should reflect that you are self-employed and should include references of persons for whom you have done work. In addition, if you do volunteer work you can provide a reference from the volunteer agency.

Are references required to be job related?

  • Yes. References must be employment-related and someone that you report or reported to.

Do I need to have a DZ licence rating prior to being hired?

  • No. It is not a requirement but is an asset. Hamilton Fire certified driving instructors provide training and certification during your course.

Is there any part of the recruitment process rated higher than another is?

  • No. Each step of the process is equally important and potential candidates must pass all required elements.

Are all applicants required to write the OS and CPS tests?

  • Yes. Both test components must be complete to continue in the hiring process. 

Can I choose my testing date?

  • Booking test sessions is on a first come, first served basis when you register with Gledhill Shaw.

I’ve completed the OS and CPS tests. How do I get my results?

  • All applicants are issued a personal identification number which can be used to review a test results list online on

What book is best to use in preparation for the exams?

  • We are not able to recommend one book over another but firefighting resource books are available for purchase at a number of local bookstores.

Do you accept test results from Ontario Fire Administration Inc.?

  • No, we currently do not accept results from the OFAI.

How do you prepare for the physical fitness tests?

Do you accept York Fitness Assessments obtained prior to the recruitment process?

  • No, we do not require this until a conditional offer is made.

What is more important in the fitness test, endurance or cardiovascular?

  • All aspects of testing are equally important to ensure potential candidates are successful during training.

Are you paid while you are in training?

  • Yes. Beginning on your first day of training, recruits are paid as per the Hamilton Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA) collective agreement

Where does training take place?

Do you receive benefits while in training?

  • Yes. Recruits will receive all benefits for firefighters as afforded by the Hamilton Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA) collective agreement.

Do you require a 90% average on practical skills in training?

  • Recruits are evaluated/tested weekly on both practical skills and in written tests. Practical skills are evaluated as either a pass or fail. Recruits must maintain a 90% average on all written tests.

What happens if you are injured in training?

  • Recruits injured in the training program may still participate in certain aspects of training. This will be dependent on the severity of the injury.

If you are injured in training, do you require a clearance prior to returning?

  • Yes. A Doctor’s certificate providing clearance to return is required in order to participate in normal duties as part of the recruit class

What percentages of recruits pass the training program?

  • The majority of all recruits complete the training program. Recruits will be dismissed from the program for failure to maintain a pass in practical testing or a 90% average in written tests.

What are the hours of work during training?

  • Training hours are Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. There will be some afternoon shifts from 3 pm to 11 pm.

What is the current shift schedule for full-time firefighters?

  • Firefighters work a 24-hour shift from 7 am to 7 am the next day and a total of seven to eight days a month for an average 42-hour workweek.

Can you transfer between the City of Hamilton Fire Department and other municipalities?

  • No. We recruit only for Hamilton. Each municipality sets their own hiring criteria.

Are you required to live in Hamilton?

  • No.

When do firefighters retire?

  • Firefighters must retire at age 60.

What advantages does the City of Hamilton offer over other municipalities?

  • Hamilton is a diverse community that has a number of unique features to which firefighters may be called upon to respond such as:
    • a busy international airport
    • port authority and shipping channels,
    • extensive rail and highway transport,
    • the Niagara escarpment,
    • an industrial area that includes manufacturing and storage of dangerous goods and a large residential population in both urban and rural settings.

Hamilton firefighters train to deal with all types of emergencies and are equipped with the best apparatus and equipment required to safely carry out their duties.

Once you’re hired, are there annual tests to complete?

  • Yes. Upon completion of the training program, recruits enter a station as a Probationary Firefighter (4th Class). On an annual basis, firefighters are required to successfully pass an examination program involving written, oral and practical exams as they progress through the ranks, from 4th Class to 3rd Class to 2nd Class and finally as a 1st Class Firefighter.