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Working as a Boston firefighter

Working as a Boston firefighter

We use an innovative recruitment strategy to find future Boston firefighters. The goal is to bring in quality candidates that reflect the diversity of the City.

We hire people to become Boston firefighters based on a list given to us by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Every two years, Massachusetts gives a statewide general aptitude entrance test for firefighters at locations across the state. This test creates a hiring list for cities and towns, including Boston.

The last exam was held in April 2016, and the results will be available in December. The next exam will be held in the spring of 2018.
City of Boston Qualifications

You must be at least 19 years of age at the time of the application deadline. You also need to be younger than 32 at date of the exam. If you are a returning veteran, you can add on up to four years of active duty to extend the time you can take the test. The oldest you can be to take the test as a returning veteran is 35.


You must be a resident of the City of Boston at least one year before the exam date to qualify for residency preference. Applicants who lived in the City of Boston for an entire twelve month period  right before the date of the exam are placed on the eligible list for Boston ahead of non-residents. Returning Massachusetts veterans may establish residency if they live in Boston within 90 days of their discharge from service.

Disabled veterans get preference first, followed by veterans. You can find more information on veterans at the bottoms of this page, or visit the state's website at

More information

To get appointed, you need to:

  • pass a written test for firefighters given by the state
  • pass a physical abilities test given by the state
  • pass a character background investigation
  • meet medical fitness requirements
  • have a valid Massachusetts driver's license
  • pass a drug test
  • pass a psychological exam, and
  • be a non-smoker.

To complete probation after you are hired, you need to:

  • complete all Fire academy assignments
  • get a Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 certification, and
  • get an EMT certification.
Salary and Benefits

Boston firefighters start at an annual salary of about $60,000. Other benefits include:

  • options for health insurance offered by BC/BS, Harvard Pilgrim, and Tufts
  • 13 paid holidays and 15 sick days each year with sick leave buyback at retirement
  • joining the Boston retirement System with the ability to retire as early as 55, and
  • paid vacation and the opportunity to join the Boston Firefighter Credit Union.
Still have questions? Contact:
Fire Operations
115 Southampton Street
Boston, MA 02118
United States
Find Civilian Job Postings

We post civilian job openings at the Boston Career Center. We also post job opportunities and other news on our Facebook page.

Want more Information about the test? contact:
  • Human Resources Division, Room 301
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts  
  • One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108
  • 617-878-9895

More resources

Learn about the written exam

The written ability test is made up of about 48 multiple-choice questions that test a series of abilities, including:

  • problem sensitivity
  • reasoning, and
  • comprehension that we determine to be important to perform the job of a firefighter.

The Work Styles Questionnaire assesses a candidate's motivation, values, and attitude. Candidates are given a series of short statements and asked to indicate whether or not they agree with each statement.

The Life Experience Survey is made up of a series of multiple-choice questions related to the candidate's history and experience. It's a good idea to review the practice exam and get comfortable with the format of the test. 

Firefighter exam preparation guide

Learn about the Physical Ability Test

The Physical Ability Test assesses a candidate's ability to perform the tasks usually performed by a firefighter while on the job. Candidates are required to perform a series of events that simulate firefighting activities and the physical abilities needed to perform the job.

These abilities include:

  • cardiovascular fitness
  • muscle strength
  • muscular endurance,
  • and flexibility.

The Physical Ability Test guide gives candidates the information they need to improve their level of physical fitness. You'll get tips on conditioning individual muscles and muscle groups that you would use as a firefighter. You'll also use these same muscles in the physical exam.

Video of the physical exam:

Veteran and Active Duty Military Applicants

Veterans status is a common merit. Those who served in the military are rewarded with several benefits during the selection process. To be eligible for veterans benefits, you must be a veteran or a dependent of a veteran, as defined by Massachusetts General Law.

By state law, the selection process for those who pass the Civil Service Exam and Physical Abilities test is based on:

  • individual scores, and
  •  a specific system of merit preference.

If you get a high score on the written and physical test, and are eligible to receive specific preferences, you’re chances of getting hired increase.

The City of Boston requires applicants to be between the ages of 19 and 31,  but those who have served on active duty in the military are eligible to apply up until the age of 35. To qualify for the City of Boston residency preference, you must live in the City within 90 days of your honorable discharge from the military.

For more information for veterans applicants, please visit