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Are you interested in obtaining the competitive edge required to be successful in your goal of becoming a firefighter?  Since 1950, Don McNea Fire School's seminars and entry-level products have prepared over 40,000 applicants in their pursuit of becoming a firefighter.'s entry-level newsletter is about YOU BEING THE BEST THE BEST PREPARED AND BEST INFORMED!  This periodic newsletter will concentrate on the complete firefighter examination testing process.  We suggest that you start a notebook or 3-ring binder of our newsletters so that you can periodically review them in your examination preparation.

By receiving this newsletter, you will also receive periodic notices of firefighter examinations being held across the country.  We will also enroll you in our weekly drawing for a free copy of our Encyclopedia of Firefighter Examinations and Psychological Exam Preparation Audiotape or CD and Workbook.

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    1. Top-Scoring Test-taking Exam Strategies

    2. Fire Prep Topics of Interest Psychological Testing

    3. Firefighter Selection Inc. (FSI) 

    4. Fire Department Addresses and Phone Numbers

    5. Los Angeles Fire Department Examination

    6. Testimonials

    7. Entry-Level Products

    8. Fire Promotional Prep Products

    9. Valuable Web Site for Candidates


    1. Top-Scoring Test-taking Exam Strategies

Many applicants are going into examinations not realizing that test-taking strategies are one of the most important aspects of the entire testing process.  With competition so tough in today's entry-level testing process, one or two questions can make the difference between becoming a firefighter and not, and having to sit on the sidelines until the next examination is given.  Part of where the ballgame will be won is when you are actually taking the examination.  Listed below are some of our top-scoring test-taking strategies that you should review every time you take an examination until they are second nature to you.

  • Read the directions very carefully or listen closely to the moderator or instructor if directions are given orally.  If at any time you are unsure of any of the directions, raise your hand and a test monitor will come over and explain your question to you. Many types of these examinations differ from one section to the next.  You should pay particular attention to the instructions for these types of examinations.
  • Before you begin, make sure you have all the pages in the examination.  In most examinations you will be told the number of pages in your booklet; check to make certain that you have all the pages or sections.  If any page is missing, immediately raise your hand and inform the test monitor.
  • Make sure that you are marking the right answer to the right question.  All it takes is skipping one question and not skipping the corresponding number on the answer sheet, to cost you the examination.  Every five questions or so, it is a good idea to take a look at the number in the test booklet and the number on your answer key to insure they match.  Also pay strict attention to whether the answer key numbers are vertical or horizontal.  You don't want to find out that you have been answering the questions on the wrong numbers.
  • When marking your answers, make sure that you mark only one answer for each question.  Do not make exceedingly large markings on your answer sheet; most of these examinations are graded by computer.  If the marking is too close to another marking, it will be double keyed and you will lose credit for that question.
  • If you need to erase an answer, be sure you erase it completely.  Do not leave any shadows that could possibly show up when the computer is grading the examination.
  • If you come across a question during the examination that you find difficult and you are spending too much time on it, skip over the question and leave a mark on your answer key.  Do not mark in the area where you will be answering; mark to the left of the number so that you know to come back to this number.  It is also a good idea, if you are allowed to mark in your test booklet, to mark out choices you have eliminated as being incorrect.  This allows you, when you come back at the end of the test, to go back to only the choices remaining when you are seeking the best answer.  If you come across a question on the examination that you find difficult, don't allow any more than two minutes on the question.  If you don't know the answer, mark it, skip it, and return to it after you have completed the remainder of the test.

  • Check the time during the examination.  For example, if there is a 200 question test and a three hour time limit, you should be on question 100 with 1-1/2 hours left.  You should check the remaining time every 10-15 minutes to ensure you are on an appropriate time frame. 
  • Do not change answers unless you are absolutely positive.  Time after time, studies have shown that when you change answers, 75-80% of the time you change it to a wrong answer.  The only time you should change an answer is if you are absolutely positive or if you have miskeyed an answer.  (For example, you intended to mark "C" and you inadvertently marked "B".)
  • Don't be afraid to guess at an answer.  Most firefighter examinations are scored based on the number of correct answers.  On most examinations, there is no penalty for a wrong answer.  If you have three minutes remaining on the examination and 15 questions to answer, try to answer as many as possible, but if time does not allow, at least put an answer down for every question.

2. Fire Prep Topics of Interest Psychological Testing

Listed below are some personality characteristics of a successful firefighter.  These are very important, inasmuch as these characteristics are what the psychological exams are looking for in a good fire candidate.

  • maintains effective and pleasant working relationships with superiors and peers
  • is flexible, not rigid, in thinking
  • is a self-motivated individual
  • has empathy and is supportive of others in time of need
  • is able to control and keep emotions on an even keel
  • is willing to accept constructive criticism from others
  • knows that there is a chain of command and that following established department procedures is important in an organization
  • is willing to work as a team member
  • shows initiative
  • innovativeness
  • uses judgment and common sense

In future newsletters we will be listing additional personality characteristics of successful firefighters and questions pertaining to psychological examinations.

3.  Firefighter Selection, Inc. (FSI)   

Firefighter Selection, Inc. (FSI) is a testing company used throughout the country.  Below we have listed some practice examination questions that we have developed from the study guide that you received in preparation for this type of examination.  Don McNea Fire School also has a 500-question practice examination workbook available on our web site.

    1. The correct treatment for a patient who has received thermal burns would be which of the following:

(First Aid and Rescue, pg 90)

      A) mineral oil applied gently to the area then covered with a sterile dressing; administer oxygen and then transport to emergency care facility

      B) immerse the burned area in cool water for 5-10 minutes, cover with a sterile dressing, administer oxygen, and start intravenous infusion to restore body fluids lost, then transport to emergency care facility

      C) immerse the burned area in cool water for up to 5 minutes, cover with a sterile dressing, administer oxygen, start intravenous infusion to restore body fluids lost, then transport to emergency care facility

    2. Building and fire prevention codes are engineered to:

(Fire Prevention, pg 102)

      A) prevent fires, limit their spread, and help the building withstand the effects of fire should one occur

      B) prevent fires, limit their spread, help the building withstand the effects of fire should one occur, and the safety of occupants should a fire occur

      C) prevent fires, limit their spread, set forth maximum requirements for design and construction of buildings in accordance with laws and ordinances

    3. The proper position for the one-man straight ladder is:

(Hose and Ladders, pg 30)

      A) ladder is carried at the lower-third to increase balance

      B) ladder is carried in the middle for increased maneuverability

      C) ladder is carried at the top third for increased convenience

Please see end of newsletter for answers.

4. Fire Department Addresses and Phone Numbers

Listed below are fire department addresses and phone numbers of some major departments across the country.  We suggest that you keep in contact with these municipalities in the upcoming year so that you don't miss an examination.

  • Akron Fire Department, 150 S. High Street, Akron OH  44308, 330-375-2720
  • Anchorage Fire Department, 1301 E. 80th Ave, Anchorage AK  99518, 907-267-4936
  • Chicago Fire Department, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 105, Chicago IL  60602, 312-744-4083
  • Cincinnati Fire Department, 430 Central Ave, Cincinnati OH  45202, 513-352-6220
  • Houston Fire Department, 1100 Elder, Houston TX  77007, 713-238-9661
  • Minneapolis Fire Department, 350 S. 5th Street, Room 230, Minneapolis MN  55415, 612-673-2688
  • Sacramento Fire Department, 1231 "I" Street, Room 401, Sacramento CA  95814, 916-264-5266

5. Los Angeles Fire Department Examination

  • The next entry-level examination for the Los Angeles Fire Department will be given August 23-24, 2003, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  To participate in this written exam, you must have official notification card already on file with the city's personnel department since the last written exam or submit a new card no later than June 27, 2003.  For additional information, go to
  • In the next 2-3 months, Don McNea Fire School will inform you of our preparatory package for this examination.

6. Testimonials

  • "Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I received my results today from the Columbus, Ohio Fire Department exam.  I am very pleased to say that I ranked in the 90 band which means that I should be one of the first people to be called up.  My total score was 97, that was without receiving any veteran preference points.  The exam process started with over 3,300 applicants and without your help I would never have scored as well as I did.  I am very thankful for your services that helped me place this high on the exam.  Keep up your fine work.  Regards, Ryan Blake"
  • "Hello, my name is Steve Brown and I live in Redlands, California.  About six months ago I ordered the tapes for the psychological test along with the workbook.  I have taken the CWS test before about 5 years ago and got a 73%.  After using your tapes, I was able to score 88.12% on the written exam, which is high enough to put me in the top 60 out of 750 candidates.  What I am saying is, thank you for all your help.  I would not have had the opportunity to get this far without the insights of your tapes.  I am currently a firefighter/paramedic but I am trying to work for one of my 3 dream departments.  Thank you again, Steve."

7. Don McNea Fire School's Entry-Level Products

8. Fire Promotional Prep Products

Lieutenant and Captain In-basket Preparation Each of these examinations include two, 50-question practice examinations, each over 80 pages in length, with in-depth explanations for each question and corresponding behavior dimensions.  Also included in this package are:  Elements of an In-basket, Behavior Dimensions, and our Top-Scoring Performance Strategies that have been proven extremely successful.  Log on to order these products!

9. Valuable Web Sites for Candidates

Learn how entry level and promotional candidates are improving their interview scores up to 15 points and nailing that badge!

Click here:

Fire "Captain Bob"

For free firefighter exam information and up-to-date information on entry-level testing and hiring, go to

FSI ANSWER KEY:  1) C, 2) A, 3) B

Have you recently been hired by a department?  Do you have any questions?  Email us at 

We hope this newsletter and upcoming editions will assist you in obtaining the best job in the world a firefighter.  We wish you the best of luck!

Don McNea Fire School


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