Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

Does prior firefighting help my chances?

Our minimum requirement is that the applicant have a High School diploma or GED.  Prior experience will be taken into consideration; however, it will not necessarily help or hurt your chances.

How often does the Indianapolis Fire Department test for firefighter positions?

The department conducts a hiring process on average every one to two years. Actual hiring does not occur until a certain number of vacancies occur on the department.

I put my application in online but haven't heard anything?  What do I need to do?

Nothing.  If you put your application in online, it will be in our applicant database.  If no hiring process is in the works at the time you apply, it may be months before you receive a letter telling you when the process will begin.  Please be patient.  There is no predictable time frame for the process to start or the written test to begin. 

I am already an EMT, do I need to go through it again?

Yes, the Indianapolis Fire Department requires you to go through our department training program.  EMT is part of the recruit class.

I am already a firefighter with another department.  Do you have a lateral transfer system.

No.  You must apply for the Indianapolis Fire Department and go through the hiring process like every other applicant.

How many questions are on the Written Test?

The test has anywhere from 200-250 questions and takes approximately 2 1/2 hours to complete.   You are given 2 hours  to study the handbook before the test.

Is there any recommended study materials that will help me prepare for the written test? 

There are many books and web sites that you can reference to help prepare you for the written test.  Two examples of these are "Firefighter" by ARCO and "Firefighter Exams" by Barrons.  No two tests are exactly alike but these will help you get a general idea of what will be asked.  One thing to remember about test day...When you are given time to study the booklet before hand...use ALL of the time given.  Don't cut yourself short.  Read the material thoroughly and take notes.  Writing things down will  help you remember them.   If you don't pass the written test you can't move on to the rest of the process.  Take it seriously.  Sleep well the night before, eat a good breakfast and don't be late!

Does IFD have an application fee?  Do I have to pay for Recruit School?

No.  All training is provided by the Indianapolis Fire Department at no charge.

How many people will show up to take the written test?

We have had as many as 2,000 people show up to take the written test.

How long does Recruit School last? How many in each Recruit Class?

Typically the Indianapolis Fire Department holds a 25 week Recruit Training Program.  It starts with a swearing in ceremony and  ends with a graduation ceremony.  Your day as a recruit may start at 6:30 am and last until 5:00 pm depending on the activities scheduled for that day.  There may be anywhere from 20-45 recruits per class.

Do you get to choose at which fire station you want to work?

New recruits are put on the street in a "substitute firefighter" rotation. All new recruits are on "probation" for one year.  Subs rotate though fire houses at the discretion of their Battalion Chief.  Assignments are made daily and may change during the shift day based on the needs of the department.  As needed, substitute firefighters are allowed to put in for a "regularly assigned" spot at a firehouse. These positions are filled through a seniority bid system.

What if I am in the military and my discharge date isn't until after recruit school begins?

If you are given a conditional offer of employment by the Indianapolis Fire Department, you must be available to attend the swearing in ceremony on the first day of class.  You will then be required to fulfill all commitments of the fire department for the remainder of recruit school.  If you are unable to do so, you will not be able to join that class.  Your status at that time will be up to the discretion of the Chief of Administration.  If you are worried about the timing of your discharge date and the recruit class, check with your military supervisor.  The military offers an early out program that you may choose to consider.

How soon after we take the written exam will I know my status?

You will receive your eligibility status approximately 4-8 weeks after the exam.  Scores are not given out.  You will  receive a letter stating whether or not you will move on to the next phase of the exam.

How do I prepare for the Oral Interview?

The best way to prepare for the oral interview is to do your homework.  Do some research on the internet.  Check out a book such as "Smoke your interview" to see what kinds of information the fire department is looking for.  Make a list of your strengths and then practice saying them with confidence.  Have your friends interview you so that you become comfortable speaking in front of others.

How soon after the Oral Interview will I know my results?

You will receive your eligibility status approximately4-8 weeks after the interview.  Scores are not given out.  You  will receive a letter stating whether or not you will move on to the next phase of the exam. 

What is the CPAT?

The CPAT is the "Candidates Physical Abilities Test."  It is a timed, standardized agility test that consists of "firefighter job related skills."  Within the given time allotment, it is pass/fail.  You can find more information on the CPAT by visiting  or check the download and print section of this website.  Special Note:  If you are not familiar with the CPAT, note that it is a physical test that requires Endurance and Upper Body Strength.  You will not pass if you have not adequately prepared in these areas.  Women especially, MUST develop their upper body strength in order to complete all phases.  Men, you can't rely solely on physical strength to get you through.  You must also have cardiovascular endurance. 

How soon after the CPAT will I know my results?

You will know immediately if you met the time requirements and passed the CPAT.  If you did not meet the time requirements, you will not continue on.  You will receive your eligibility status approximately 2-6 weeks after the CPAT.  Scores are not given out.  You  will receive a letter stating whether or not you will move on to the next phase of the exam.    Not everyone who passes the CPAT moves on to the next phase.  This number is determined by the hiring needs of the department.

I have a CPAT card.  Do I still have to take the CPAT test?

Yes. At this time, the Indianapolis Fire Department does not honor the CPAT card. 

Does recruit training count towards any military benefit?

Yes. The 25 weeks you spend in the academy qualify for GI Bill Benefits.

What if I get activated?

If you are an applicant who has gotten a "conditional offer of employment" but has not been sworn in, you will be considered for the next available recruit class, upon your return.   If you are in recruit school  (sworn) and get activated, you will be able to fulfill the demands of your military activation.  Upon your return you will be required to complete your recruit school training.   You will not have to re-apply.  If you are finished with recruit training and in the companies, you will fulfill your obligations to the military but on a leave without  pay status from the department.  Depending upon the length of your deployment, you may have to take a refresher training class before you are able to  return to the companies.