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""This is a guest blog post from the Civil Service Unit.

Firefighters are some of Massachusetts’ most dedicated, hardworking civil servants. If you think you would thrive in a physically challenging job that involves operating heavy hose lines and pumps, maintaining equipment, putting out fires, and performing emergency rescues — all as part of a tight-knit team — consider applying to become a firefighter.

The Human Resources Division (HRD) of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (ANF) is now accepting applications for the 2016 Firefighter Exam.

Applying for the Firefighter Civil Service Exam

The firefighter civil service exam is given every other year and determines the candidates who will be eligible for positions in fire departments covered by civil service throughout the state.

The main qualifications for candidates in Massachusetts civil service jurisdictions are defined in Massachusetts General Law Chapter 31, Section 58. You must be at least 19 years old on or before March 21 to take the exam.

If you will have lived in your community for at least a year before you take the written test,  you can claim residency preference on your application. This will place you ahead of nonresidents for positions in your city or town.

Updating Your Civil Service Application

If you need to update your application at any point after submitting it, complete an Update MaCS Account application. Changes may include veteran status, EMT certifications, language fluency, gender, ethnicity, or contact details.

Taking the Firefighter Exam

The civil service exam consists of two parts — a written exam and physical test. You must pass both to be placed on the eligible list.

If you are interested in applying, remember these important dates:

  • March 1 — The initial application deadline for the civil service exam. The fee is $200 for applications received by this date.
  • March 21 — The last day to register for the 2016 firefighter exam, with an additional late fee of $50. Applications received after this date will not be accepted, so apply soon.
  • April 16 — The date of the written civil service exam, held at various sites across the Commonwealth. Check the exam schedule for more details.
  • December 2015–June 30, 2016 — Physical exams will be conducted throughout this time period. Your test will be scheduled after you submit your application.

Written Civil Service Exam

The written portion of the civil service exam has three parts. Each part tests different qualities that are important for entry-level firefighters:

  • Written Ability Test (WAT) — Evaluates key mental abilities, including communication skills and understanding, ability to detect and solve problems, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and putting new information in a logical order
  • Work Styles Questionnaire (WSQ) — Assesses motivation, values, and attitude
  • Life Experience Survey (LES) — Determines suitability based on questions about relevant personal and professional history

You can review the Firefighter Written Exam Orientation and Preparation Guide to familiarize yourself with the exam process, learn test-taking techniques, and practice with sample questions.

Entry Level Physical Ability Test (ELPAT)

The second part of the civil service exam is the entry-level physical ability test (ELPAT). It tests your ability to handle the physical aspects of being a firefighter. The Massachusetts Fire Departments Physical Ability Test Preparation Guide can help you prepare.

You will receive an email with the date and time of your ELPAT once you have submitted your exam application and payment. ELPATs will be held through June 30 at the Hudson Armory in Hudson, Massachusetts. Dates and time slots are given on a first-come, first-served basis, so sign up for the exam early.

Makeup Civil Service Exams for Military Personnel

If you are on active duty in the military and have orders that conflict with either test date, you can take a makeup exam. To do this, you must:

  • File an application and processing fee with a copy of your military orders attached
  • Request a makeup exam in writing

After You Pass the Civil Service Exam

If you pass the exam, you will be placed on the eligible list for firefighter jobs in Massachusetts. The list is active for two years. The certification order of lists shows how candidates are ranked.

If you receive a conditional offer of employment, you must pass two more steps before starting your job:

You can use the PAT Training Guide to prepare for your test.

You can find additional details on the civil service exam, qualifications, preparation, appointments, and more on the fire information civil service website.

For more information on how to become a firefighter in Massachusetts and other civil service exams, read the civil service FAQs or contact the civil service unit at

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