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Joining The Fire Department, Then And Now

-- From "Our Firemen" 1887

To become a fireman a person must be twenty-one years of age and of good moral character. He goes first to the secretary, and procures from him a blank, which he fills out, and get four reliable men to sign, certifying that they have known him never to have been indicted or convicted of any crime; that they have known him for a certain number of years. The candidate then returns it to the secretary. He is then sent before the Medical Board and examined as to his physical condition. He is measured, weighed, and the circumference of his chest taken.
Height Circumference Of Chest Minimum Weight
5'7" 33" 140 lbs
5'8" 34" 145 lbs
5'9" 34 1/2" 150 lbs
5'10" 35" 155 lbs
5'11" 35 1/2 160 lbs
6'0" 36" 165 lbs
6'1" 36 1/2" 170 lbs
6'2" 37" 175 lbs
6'3" 37 1/2" 180 lbs
6'4" 38" 185 lbs

He must state whether he is subject to fits, piles, and whether his father or mother are dead? If either or both, what they died of? Whether he has any brothers or sisters dead? What they died of? If this examination is satisfactory, he goes to the gymnasium and his powers of endurance are tested. From there he goes before the Board of Civil Service Examiners. He must have a fair knowledge of the three R.'s.

In the meantime his application has been sent to the Chief of Battalion in whose district he lives, who investigates what he has sworn to in the application. He references are seen and examined. If this is all right, the chief returns it with his approval, presuming that he has passed all the examinations. He is appointed for fifteen days on probation, without pay.

Then comes the course of instruction. He reports at the foot of West 158 Street every morning at 10:00am. (Sundays and legal holidays excepted); here he is instructed in the use of all the ladders and implements of the life-saving corps. He is taught to hold a pipe, and in fact, everything pertaining to a fireman's career. In the afternoon he goes to the headquarters in 67th Street, near Third Avenue. Here a verbal course of instruction is given; when this is over, hi is assigned to an engine or truck company, where he sleeps and answers all alarms, and does duty as a fireman.

This is the routine which a candidate follows day after day, until his half month of probation has ended. If his company and Batallion commanders report favorable on him, he is appointed, and receives $1,000 for his first year, $1,100 for his second, and then becomes a fireman of the first grade with a salary of $1,200.

-- From the Fire Department of New York and the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services, 2001

1: Qualify to be an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic with FDNY

How to become a FDNY EMT or Paramedic: Register with FDNY at (718) 999-2169/2179. Your name will be placed into our applicant database and as vacancies occur FDNY will contact candidates for processing and investigation.

2: Qualify to take the Firefighter Promotion Examination

FDNY employees who are working as EMTs or Paramedics will have the opportunity, if qualified, to file for and take the promotion to firefighter written examination; those who pass the written will take a physical and a promotion list will be created. All eligibles on the list will take a medical and a psychological [test].

3: Get appointed off the Firefighter Promotion list and become a firefighter


  • Choice of a wide variety of health plans with family coverage and prescription plan.
  • Excellent vacation package and flexible work hours.
  • Line of Duty Injury Policy for EMS and generous pension plans for all.
  • Promotional opportunities within EMS and Fire.

The current annual salary is $29,973. With overtime, holiday pay, and night differential, the salary of a firefighter will be over $35,000 and will increase to over $50,000 after five years with additional longevity pay every five years.


  • Age: At least 17.5 years of age by the end of the application period. Must be 21 years of age at time of appointment. You must not have reached your 29th birthday by the beginning of the application period.
  • 30 semester credits or a high school diploma and 2 years of honorable U.S. military service upon appointment.
  • A motor vehicle driver's license valid in New York State.
  • Certified First Responder Certification with Defibrilliation.

All applicants must pass written, physical fitness, medical, and psychological examinations. A thorough character, employment, and background investigation will be conducted including fingerprinting.

Residency Requirement: The New York Public Officers Law requires that any person employed as a Firefighter in the Fire Department of New York be a resident of the City of New York or of Nassau, Westchester, Suffolk, Orange, Rockland or Putnam Counties.

English Requirement: Candidates must be able to understand and be understood in English.

Proof of Identity: Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, you must be able to prove your identity and your right to obtain employment in the United States prior to employment with the City of New York.

Citizenship Requirement: United States citizenship is required at the time of appointment.

THE TEST: There will be a written multiple-choice test, weight 50, and a physical test, weight 50. The pass mark for the written test will be determined after an analysis of the test results.

The written test is designed to test the candidate's ability to learn and to perform the work of a firefighter. It may include questions involving the understanding of written language and information, using language to communicate information or ideas to other people, memorizing information, recognizing or identifying the existence of problems, applying general rules to specific situations, applying prioritized rules to specific situations, determining position or spatial orientation within a larger area, visualizing how objects or structures might appear from different perspectives or after changes, finding a rule or concept which fits or describes a situation, and other related areas.

The physical test will consist of a series of events designed to test the candidate's capacity to perform the physical aspects of a firefighter's job. A more detailed description of the physical test will be made available at a later date. Candidates will be required to undergo a drug screening on the day of the physical test.

For candidates who pass both the written and physical tests, scores on the written and physical tests will be converted to standard scores. The standard score on each test will then be multiplied by the weight of that test, and these products will be added resulting in a combined weighted standardized score. Ranking of candidates will be based on this combined weighted standardized score. This combined weighted standardized score will then be transformed to scores between 70 and 100.

New York City Residency Credit: Five points will be added to the final exam score of those candidates who qualify for New York City Residency Credit.

Legacy Credit: Five points will be added to the final score of those candidates who qualify for the "Legacy Credit." A candidate shall qualify for the "Legacy Credit" if his or her parent has died while engaged in the discharge of his or her duties as a uniformed member of the New York City Fire Department, Police Department, Transit Police Department or Housing Authority Police Department.

WHAT THE JOB INVOLVES: Under supervision, firefighters assist in the control and extinguishment of fires, in providing pre-hospital emergency medical care, and in the enforcement of laws, ordinances, rules and regulations regarding the prevention, control and extinguishment of fires, as well as perform Fire Safety Education activities; and perform related work. Some of the physical activities performed by firefighters and environmental conditions experienced are: wearing protective clothing, such as bunker suit, helmet, boots and breathing apparatus; crawling, crouching and standing, often for prolonged periods, while extinguishing fires; driving fire apparatus; climbing stairs, ladders and fire escapes; raising portable ladders; using forcible entry tools, such as axes, sledge hammers, power saws and hydraulic tools; searching for victims in smoke-filled hostile environments; carrying or dragging victims from dangerous locations; connecting, stretching and operating hose lines; locating hidden fire by feel and smell; providing medical assistance to injured or ill citizens; and providing control and mitigation of hazardous materials incidents while wearing chemical protective clothing.


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