How to Become a NYC Firefighter

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Firefighters work in hazardous conditions to help stabilize building fires and safely evacuate civilians from the area. The main goal of a firefighter, established by the US Department of Labor, is to protect the public from fires and related dangers by swiftly responding to emergency calls and utilizing equipment to neutralize the situation. The New York City Fire Department only hires new firefighters every three to four years. Thus, you are only able to apply during these short hiring windows. The official NYC Fire Department website features a list of upcoming application/exam dates.

Check the New York City Fire Department website to determine the next firefighter exam date. In order to apply for a position at the FDNY, you must be a U.S. citizen with a valid New York State drive’s license as well as a resident within NYC or in Suffolk, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, Orange or Nassau counties. You must also have a minimum of 15 college credits from a community college or university. Before you can be hired as a NYC firefighter, you must be a CFR-D (Certified First Responder with Defibrillation), which can be completed at various institutions or directly through the NYC Fire Department. As of 2010, this certification cost $775.

Fill out the application packet once it is available on the NYC Fire Department website. Pay the application fee, which as of 2010 is $30.00, and mail your application packet to DCAS Applications Section, 1 Centre St., 14th Floor, New York, NY 10007. Contact the FDNY and request the free study materials for the firefighter examination at 718-999-2000.

Check your mail 10 to 15 days before your testing date for your admission card. The admission card will be mailed to your home address. You need this card in order to take the firefighter examination. If you do not receive your admission card at least four days prior to your test date, visit the Examining Service Section at 1 Centre St., 14th Floor, New York, NY 10007 and request a duplicate copy.

Arrive at the exam location at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled test time. The examination involves a written multiple-choice test. According to the New York City Fire Department, you must accurately answer 70 percent of the multiple-choice questions in order to qualify for the physical ability exam. After passing the written examination, you will be given a date and a time for the physical ability exam.

Pay the $25.00 physical ability testing fee (as of 2010) on or before your scheduled test date. This exam consists of eight events created to assess your ability to accurately perform all the physical demands of a firefighter. Prior to arriving for the physical ability text, you will receive an informational packet regarding the testing events. After you have completed all of the aforementioned exams and testing, you will be placed on the civil service list. Once a position opens within the fire department, you will be contacted to undergo further screening. Take note. You can be on this list up to four years before being contacted for the next step.

When your civil service list number is selected by the FDNY, you will undergo psychological, medical and background screenings. After passing the screenings, you will be placed on a 12-month paid probation period in which your skills as a firefighter are put to the test. After this probationary period, you will receive a pay raise (amount varies) and will be an official New York City Firefighter.


You may be required to undergo an additional background investigation after your civil service list number is selected, according to the New York City Fire Department. As of 2010, this investigation requires a $75 fingerprinting fee as well as copies of your birth certificate, educational transcripts and naturalization papers (if applicable).


The FDNY firefighter application process can be long and tedious, so prepare for a waiting period before beginning work as a firefighter.

Firefighters salary

  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $93,790 ($45.09/hour)
  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $26,940 ($12.95/hour)