The Hiring Process


Please read this entire page before calling the recruiter for background packet assistance. Thank you.

Below are the Arlington County Fire Department disqualifiers as well as information on steps in the August 2020 Firefighter/EMT Recruit hiring process, which includes links to instructions and required forms.

For assistance, please call the Recruitment Officer at (703)228-0098.

Arlington County Fire Department Disqualifying Factors

  • Criminal
    • Conviction of or plead of “guilty” to any Felony (or equivalent if outside of Virginia) within the last five (5) years of the written test date not mentioned in the VAOEMS guidelines.
    • Any Misdemeanor conviction within the last three (3) years (36 months from written test date).
    • Conviction of a domestic violence offense
  • Driving
    • Record of current driver’s license revocation, suspension or previous revocations or suspension as direct results of moving violations within the previous five (5) years (60 months from written test date).
    • Record of charges/convictions associated with DUI/DWI, reckless driving, hit and run, eluding police or leaving the scene of an accident within five (5) years (60 months of written test date).
    • More than two (2) moving violations within the previous one (1) year (12 months from the written test date).
    • More than three (3) moving violations within the previous two (2) years (24 months from the written test date).
  •  Drugs
    • Any evidence of possession, selling, manufacturing or distribution of any illegal or dangerous drug, as defined by State or Federal laws.
    • Any use of cocaine, illegal use of opiates (e.g., heroin, morphine, methadone, dilaudid, etc.) or any use of illegal hallucinogens (e.g., LSD, MDMA, etc.) within five (5) years ( 60 months from written test date).
    • Illegal marijuana usage within last (6) months from the written test date.  Illegal marijuana refers to the use in any state in which it is not legalized for possession.
    • Use of prescribed or over the counter medicines/drugs for a purpose other than that intended, within the last two (2) years from the written test date.
  • Military
    • Any discharge from the military other than honorable or general (if general, provide details in background packet).

Submission of online application

  • Receipt of requested items can take several weeks and are subject to the issuing agency’s timelines. Candidates are strongly encouraged to initiate requests as soon as possible to obtain required documents such as, criminal history and driving history reports, transcripts/diplomas and any other required documents (see Submission of Background Packet below). 

Application screening

Written Examination

  • (The date of the next written test is not known at this time; complete the notification template on the Employment Info page to be notified of the next test)
    • When a recruitment process is opened, a link to the Study Guide will soon be available to assist candidates in preparation for the written examination.  Check back soon.
    • Candidates scheduled for testing are to bring a valid government-issued photo ID. No other forms or documents are requested for submittal at the time of the written test.
    • Applicants will be notified of their written test status via letter and/or email.

Submission of Background Packet and Investigations

 2021 Background Packet(PDF, 1MB)

  • A complete Background Packet must be received by the Fire Department for further consideration in this process.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to begin the process of obtaining requested reports and documents as soon as possible at the time of application submittal.
  • An extensive background investigation will be conducted concurrently with all other steps in the selection process on those applicants who pass the written examination. This includes providing fingerprints. The investigation will cover areas such as accuracy of the information on the application and background materials; credit history; criminal history; driving record history; involvement with illicit drugs; honesty, integrity and reliability of the applicant.
  • Applicants who have been notified of successfully passing the written examination must submit all requested items for a complete background packet. (See instructions in Background Packet link above).
  • Items required for a complete Background Packet are to be submitted as follows
  • Candidates are to collect all Background Packet items and submit them as one packet (See Background Packet link above for complete instructions). No documents, copies or attachments are to be sent separately, unless the issuing agency requires otherwise. When printing the Background Questionnaire and release forms, do not print on both sides of the paper.
  • An applicant may be disqualified at any time during the selection process based on the submission of an incomplete background packet or a review of background investigation information. Please be sure you have affixed your signature where required and that you have reviewed your packet to ensure that it contains all required information.

Advanced Life Support (ALS) Premium Pay

  • For those applicants who are ALS certified, the background investigation will include verification of ALS certifications. Please include a copy of your certification in your background packet submittal.
    • Applicants who are hired and hold a current valid Virginia (VA) EMT- Intermediate or VA Paramedic certification will be eligible to receive the relative premium pay upon hire as follows:
      • VA EMT Intermediate – $0.87 per hour (non-shift rate)
      • VA Paramedic– $1.73 per hour (non-shift rate)
    • Applicants who are hired and hold National Registry Paramedic certification will be eligible for the above-referenced premium pay at the time of completion of reciprocity to Virginia Paramedic certification.
    • Applicants who are hired and hold out-of-state ALS certification will be required to successfully complete ACFD ALS training requirements before being eligible.

Criminal History Reports

  •  The State of Maryland  – To obtain a criminal history report, if required, from the state of Maryland, please go to the following website for detailed information: (click on fingerprinting).
  • All Other Jurisdictions – Candidates who require criminal history reports from jurisdictions/states other than Maryland are to follow the respective jurisdiction’s law enforcement agencies process to obtain criminal history reports as ACFD is unaware of any other authorization requirements. This may require contacting the city, county or state Police or Sheriff’s office in the respective jurisdiction of current/previous residence.


  • The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a work sample test similar to duties performed by Firefighter/EMTs and provides structured practice sessions over an eight (8) week period. The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) CPAT requires all candidates for Firefighter/EMT Recruit to participate in at least two Practice Sessions and two Timed-Run Practice Sessions to participate in the Official CPAT.  IAFF will allow candidates to waive their participation in the Practice program by submitting a CPAT-Waiver Form (print, complete, and submit along with your background documents).  Submittal of a CPAT Waiver form does not preclude participation in part or the full practice program.  A voluntary self-study preconditioning CPAT Preparation Guide is available to assist with physical conditioning in preparation for CPAT.  You may also request fitness program recommendations at the CPAT practice sessions and by calling 703-228-2728. Leave a clearly spoken message to include a telephone number and a Peer Fitness Trainer will return your call.
  • Administering CPAT:  All tasks will be demonstrated at the time of the CPAT test. Admission to this test is conditioned upon the candidate’s signing a form releasing the County from liability as well as prior receipt of the waiver form if the candidate chose not to participate in the Practice Sessions and/or Timed-Run Practice Sessions. CPAT is a time-sensitive pass or fail test.  To access the CPAT course, candidates must bring a valid government-issued photo ID (Driver’s License/State ID card, Military ID, Passport/Visa).  Candidates will not be able to participate without proper identification.  Candidates must wear long pants and footwear, closed at the heel and toe.  Jewelry is not allowed. All other equipment (hard hat, gloves, etc.) will be provided for testing.  Candidates will not be allowed to participate without proper clothing and footwear.  To learn more about the CPAT test, view this recommended CPAT Video.
  • IAFF CPAT certificates from other jurisdictions, dated no earlier than December 5, 2019, will be accepted after verification. Please include a copy of the cert in your background packet submittal. If obtained after submittal of your packet, please send it via email scanned attachment to   Once verified, candidates will receive email notification of acceptance (look to hear back closer to the onset of CPAT).

Fingerprint Candidates for Background Investigation

  • Fingerprinting will take place at the time of CPAT certification and following candidate receipt of Conditional Job Offers.

Schedule Candidates for Oral Panel Interviews

  • Applicants will respond to interview questions designed to assess knowledge, skills, and abilities critical to the job.
  • Fingerprint Candidates for Oral Panel Interviews

Fire Chief’s Review and Extend Conditional Job Offer

Based upon the Fire Department’s staffing needs, a conditional offer of employment is extended and the following steps will occur:

  • Schedule Polygraph/Psychological/Medical-Physical Examinations, Fingerprinting and Uniform Fitting: This step includes drug screening, hepatitis and HIV testing, and other screening examinations as deemed appropriate. Arlington County adheres to the medical standards established by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1582.
  • Possible meeting with the Fire Chief

Notify Candidates to Receive Final Job Offer

  • Uniforms and Equipment Fitting ( Fit Test )

Candidates Report to Recruit School

  • Candidates complete necessary Human Resources Department in-processing documents and are scheduled for new employee orientation as newly hired Firefighter/EMT Recruits.
  • During the twenty-eight (28) weeks in Fire Recruit School, training will be conducted at the Fire Training Academy as well as the various Fire Stations within Arlington and the City of Falls Church and potentially at out-of-state facilities for a period up to one week.