The Hiring Process


Please read all information provided about the hiring process before calling a recruiter for assistance. Thank you.

The Arlington County Fire Department disqualifiers and information on steps in the 2023 - 2024 Firefighter/EMT Recruit hiring process can be accessed through the links above or by clicking the next button.

For other questions, please call the Recruitment Officer at (703)228-0098

Looking for a sneak peek of Recruit School? 

Welcome to Recruit School


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).
    • 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

  • Complete the online application by October 20th, 2023. Link will be posted when live.
  • Start to gather your personal documents for the background investigation. Some requested items can take several weeks and are subject to the issuing agency’s timelines. You are encouraged to initiate requests as soon as possible. Required documents include your birth certification, driver’s license, passport, social security card, driving record, criminal history record, diplomas, transcripts, marriage and divorce certificates. See the full details at Submission of Background Packet and Investigations


  • You are also encouraged to review and start training for the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT).



Application screening

All applications will be screened to ensure they meet the following minimum qualifications:
  • 18 years of age by the start of recruit school
  • US Citizenship/ Naturalization Certificate or Alien Registration Receipt Card
  • High School Graduate or GED
  • Valid Driver's License



Written Examination

  • Eligible candidates will receive a link to schedule a written examination through the National Testing Network.
  • Applicants will have the option to schedule the examination at one of their national testing centers or virtually with a live proctor. To take a virtual examination, applicants must agree to the rules of the testing agency and meet their requirements for computer systems and internet.
  • The written examination will assess judgement, mechanical reasoning, reading and basic math capabilities.
  • More information about the examination, is available at the National Testing Network.



Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT)

  • 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. Submittal of a CPAT Waiver form does not preclude participation in part or the full practice program. 
  • A voluntary self-study preconditioning CPAT Prep Plan I(PDF, 900KB) and CPAT Prep Plan II(PDF, 898KB) is available to assist with physical conditioning in preparation for CPAT. 
  • 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 January 21, 2023, will be accepted after verification.
  • CPAT Schedule - RC83 CPAT Schedule(PDF, 119KB) specific time slots and locations will be provided by email to eligible applicants. 
  • Attendance is required for the candidate orientation, two practice sessions and two timed run sessions. If you are unable to attend these sessions prior to testing, you may submit the CPAT-Waiver Form.



Panel Interviews

  • Applicants will respond to interview questions designed to assess knowledge, skills, and abilities critical to the job.
  • Panel interviews will be conducted virtually.



Fire Chief’s Review and Extend Conditional Job Offer

  • Based upon the Fire Department’s staffing needs, a conditional offer of employment will be extended and the following steps will occur:
  • Schedule polygraph, psychological and medical-physical examinations, and fingerprinting.
  • 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.



Background Packet and Investigations

  • Applicants will be notified after successfully passing the CPAT and given directions to upload documents and complete the questionnaires through an online program called eSOPH.
  • An extensive background investigation will be conducted concurrently with all other steps in the selection process. 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.
  • Required documents:
    • Birth Certificate. You can find instructions online on how to obtain your certified birth certificate (click here) if you don’t already have a copy of one. It is important to request a copy immediately, as it may take weeks to receive.
    • Your Driver’s License.
    • Driving Record
    • High school and college diploma(s), GED, or certificate of high school proficiency.
    • Transcripts.
    • Your social security card.
    • Naturalization Certificate or Alien Registration Receipt Card (if applicable for non-U.S. born citizens or permanent residents)
    • Marriage Certificates. If you have been married, a copy of your marriage certificate, for each marriage (usually available from the county registrar).
    • Divorce Documents. For any marriages dissolved, a copy of the final dissolution/annulment order for each marriage dissolved.
    • Criminal History Record – Scan and upload the original document(s) that you receive. Applicants must provide a criminal history report from the local law enforcement agency or agencies for each locality/jurisdiction of residence, covering the past five (5) years (including residences/jurisdictions during college residence, etc. if the residence is more than 90 days).
  • Additional documents:
    • Copy of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) B, I, or P Certification – (only upload if you currently hold a certification applicable; not a requirement for qualification).
  • 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. 



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

Applicants must provide a criminal history report from the local law enforcement agency or agencies for each locality/jurisdiction of residence, covering the past five (5) years (including residences/jurisdictions during college residence, etc. if the residence is more than 90 days).

  •  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.



Final Job Offer

  • Candidates will receive the final job offer with instructions for uniform and gear fitting. Uniforms and safety gear are provided.
  • Candidates will be given the start date for the 83rd Recruit School at our Fire Training Academy.
  • Over the 30-week recruit school, firefighter/EMT recruits receive hands-on and classroom-based training in basic firefighting and emergency medical services. Upon successful completion of the Fire Training Academy, recruits will be assigned to a rotating 24-hour shift at one of our fire stations as a probationary Firefighter/EMT.