Steps to Becoming an Ames Firefighter

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How Do I Become a Firefighter?


First thing you might consider doing is reviewing the Firefighter job description.

At the time a Firefighter vacancy (or anticipated vacancy) occurs, the City's Human Resource Department begins to accept applications.  Click here to complete an online job application from the City of Ames Human Resources department. 

Firefighter Selection Process: The selection process will consist of a physical ability test, a written exam, a phone interview, a ride-along, and a Chief's interview. Candidates must successfully complete each component to be invited to participate in subsequent components of the selection process. Candidates who pass the physical ability test will be invited to take the written exam.  Due to the anticipated number of candidates each testing process, no alternative testing dates are made available, and the City does not reimburse candidate travel expenses. A limited number of candidates who pass the physical ability and written tests are usually invited to participate in phone interviews. Participation may be limited to candidates possessing qualifications above the minimum.

Physical Qualifications: Candidates must have the ability to perform strenuous physical tasks under difficult conditions. Vision requirements include color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and ability to see both within arms' reach and at distances greater than twenty feet in reduced visibility. Post job offer physical including drug screens required.

Firefighter Testing FAQs: Applicants for Firefighter frequently have questions regarding the City of Ames Civil Service testing process. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. If you qualify to participate in the initial testing, we will send you additional information prior to the testing date.

Who will be invited to test?

NO FIREFIGHTING EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED.  But applicants must meet the minimum qualifications of a high school degree and driver's license, based on a review of the application materials and transcripts by Human Resources, to be invited to take the physical agility test. Although not required, it can be helpful to complete and/or become certified in at least one of the following areas listed below:

  • Emergency Medical Responder certificate* or higher (EMR, EMT, or Paramedic)
  • Firefighter 1 certification**
  • Haz-Mat Awareness certificate or higher (i.e., Haz-Mat Operations, or Haz-Mat Technician)
  • Associate Degree or higher in a "fire" or "EMS-related" discipline 

*State of Iowa or National Registry is preferred, but the ability to obtain reciprocity in the State of Iowa will be acceptable.

**State of Iowa, IFSAC, or Pro-Board accredited is preferred, but the ability to obtain reciprocity in the State of Iowa will be acceptable.

All applicants will be notified by e-mail regardless of whether or not they are invited to test.

Where will the tests be administered?

The physical agility test will be administered in the Lied Recreation Center on the campus of Iowa State University.  Human Resources and Fire representatives will determine the candidate's eligibility to take the physical agility and written exams. The written exam will be administered in Bessie Meyers Auditorium (in Mary Greeley Medical Center), typically the next day.

Candidates should make sure they are in good physical condition for the physical agility test. To learn more about the physical ability testing requirements, please visit the fire department's website on How to Become an Ames Firefighter at Physical Ability Testing Requirements.  More specific information regarding the test times and locations will be sent during the weeks prior to testing to candidates who are invited to the physical agility test.

What kind of written test is given to Firefighter candidates?

The Ames Fire Department utilizes Fire & Police Selection’s Comprehensive Examination Battery test for the entry-level firefighter written test.  This written exam consist of a variety of sub-tests developed and validated by experienced fire officers from around the country.  It is designed to measure critical performance aspects required for successful performance as a firefighter.  The tests include measurement of an applicant’s reading ability, mathematical reasoning, map reading, writing ability and human relations. 

To prepare for the test, candidates may access the following website as a resource However, successful applicants do not need to purchase practice tests - sometime prior to the written test they will receive a link (free of charge) to the Candidate Orientation Guide. This guide provides a general overview of what can be expected on the written test.

NOTE: The City of Ames does NOT endorse any preparation website and is not responsible for any associated fees with test preparation.

What happens after the written test?

The physical agility and written tests will be Pass/Fail, which means that they must be passed to continue but will not be included in the candidate's final Civil Service score. After receiving results of the written exam, the City’s Human Resource department will notify candidates if they qualify to participate in a phone interview. The phone interview will also be Pass/Fail, which means that it must be passed to continue but will not be included in the candidate's final Civil Service score.

The final civil service score will be the fire chief’s interview score, and up to the top forty (40) scoring candidates will be certified by the Civil Service Commission as eligible for hire. Both interviews will consist of a series of questions designed to learn more about you, your background and your decision making abilities. It is recommended that you practice your interviewing skills with a friend or family member and be open and honest in your responses.

The Fire Department will choose candidates from this certified list, and may conduct an additional interview prior to making a hiring decision. If a conditional offer of employment is made, then an extensive background investigation and physical exam (including drug test) will also be conducted prior to appointment.

If I am unable to take the physical agility test on the scheduled day, can I make arrangements to take it on another day?

Due to the large number of applicants, and the number of staff required to administer the test, we are not able to make special arrangements for those unable to test on that day. All candidates must pass the physical agility test in order to continue to the written test.

Can I use a physical agility test score from another Fire Department?

The Ames Fire Department utilizes a physical testing process that is not found in other fire departments throughout the State of Iowa. Due to its uniqueness, only those successfully passing our physical agility test will be allowed to move on to the written test.

Will the City of Ames pay for my travel and lodging expenses?

No. You will be responsible for all of your personal expenses related to the selection process.

When will a hiring decision be made?

Candidates will be hired from the Civil Service list as positions become vacant. The list will remain valid for up to one year, and will be used by the Fire Department to fill vacancies occurring during that period.

Whom do I call with additional questions?

If you have a question that is not answered above and requires an immediate response, you may contact Human Resources at 515-239-5199. You can also e-mail


Click here to find out what steps are specifically included in the physical ability testing process.