Ontario Fire Administration Inc. (OFAI) Prep

Preparing for OFAI testing can be a daunting task. If you want to become a firefighter in Ontario, there is a good chance your department of choice will require that you pass the OFAI (Ontario Fire Administration Inc.) testing.


The OFAI can be broken down into the 6 steps below:

  • Step one - Firefighter Information
  • Step two - Candidate Self Selection
  • Step Three - Candidate Registration
  • Step Four - Candidate Testing
  • Step Five - OFAI CTS Certificates
  • Step Six - Application for Employment

For the purpose of this article, we are going to concentrate on Step Four - Candidate Testing as this is the most important step to successfully passing the OFAI.

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Step Four - Candidate Testing


Step four of the OFAI Candidate testing process is broken down into the following stages:

  1.  Firefighter Aptitude and Character Test (FACT)
  2.  Hearing Assessment
  3.  Vision Assessment
  4.  Treadmill Test
  5.  Firefighter Physical Aptitude Job-Related Tests (FPAT)
  6.  Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment

Each one must be successfully completed (in the order shown above) to be able to proceed to the next stage.

The Firefighter Aptitude and Character Test (FACT)


The first stage of step four is the firefighter aptitude and character test. It consists of a pass or fail type aptitude test designed for an entry-level firefighter.

What will I find on the FACT Firefighter Aptitude test?

You will find two sections in this test:

  1.  The General Aptitude Test (45% of overall marks)
  2.  A Personality Inventory Test (55% of overall marks)

The General Aptitude Test portion includes:

  • Reading Ability (15 questions) - You are presented with a fire-related passage that you must read and answer questions in multiple choice format. All correct answers are provided in the passage.
  • Mathematical Reasoning (15 questions) - You are presented with basic math functions. These functions include - addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, ratio's and proportions and percentages. Most of these questions are presented in word format.
  • Map Reading (10 questions) - You will be presented with a street map, residential or commercial floor plans, or water distribution charts. You can be asked for the most efficient way of getting from one point to another, follow directions that outline a specific route or identify the location of an object in relation to another object.
  • Writing Ability (10 questions) - There are various formats in this section. You could find a "word that best completes the sentence" section, grammar, punctuation, spelling etc. 

The Personality Inventory Test (60 questions) portion is designed to test your ability to:

  •  interact with others effectively, with co-worker, superiors and the public while following the chain of command.
  • assess your ability to prioritize tasks.
  • manage conflicting requirements.
  • make critical decisions.

The sections to the Personality Inventory Test are honestly, integrity, teamwork, commitment, and emotional stability.

Important OFAI FACT Test General Information

  • The Firefighter Aptitude and Character Test is completed in a computer lab environment.
  • You are given three hours to complete the test.
  • If you pass, the results are valid for 24 months.
  • If failed, you can re-take the test after fifteen days (if it's your first attempt).
  • If failed and it's your second attempt, you can re-take the test after thrity days on all of your following attempts.
  • No feedback is provided after you take the test.
  • The cost to take this test is $65.

How do I prepare for the Firefighter Aptitude and Character Test (FACT)?

The best way to prepare for this firefighter aptitude test is to prepare. We have some great preparation material you can find right here.


What Municipal Fire Departments are using the OFAI FACT Test?

Department List ** Click here to expand **

  • City of Toronto - Toronto Fire Services
  • City of Kitchener - Kitchener Fire Department
  • City of North Bay - North Bay Fire & Emergency Services
  • GTAA Fire & Emergency Services
  • City of Peterborough - Peterborough Fire Services
  • City of Brampton-Brampton Fire & Emergency Services
  • City of Barrie-Barrie Fire & Emergency Services
  • City of Guelph - Guelph Fire Department
  • City of Cambridge - Cambridge Fire Department
  • City of Woodstock - Woodstock Fire & Rescue
  • City of Stratford - Stratford Fire Department
  • Town of Oakville - Oakville Fire Department
  • Town of East Gwillimbury - East Gwillimbury Emergency Services
  • Town of Midland - Midland Fire Department
  • Town of Greater Napanee - Greater Napanee Fire Services
  • City of Mississauga - Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services
  • City of Owen Sound - Owen Sound Fire & Emergency Services
  • City of Quinte West - Quinte West Fire & Rescue
  • Town of Caledon-Caledon Fire & Emergency Services
  • Central York Fire Services
  • City of Waterloo - Waterloo Fire & Rescue
  • City of Pickering - Pickering Fire Services
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Fire Department
  • City of Markham - Markham Fire and Emergency Services
  • Township of Scugog - Scugog Fire Service
  • City of Sarnia - Sarnia Fire Rescue
  • City of Oshawa - Oshawa Fire Services
  • City of St. Thomas Fire Department
  • Township of Springwater - Fire and Emergency Services
  • Loyalist Township - Loyalist Township Emergency Services
  • Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury - Bradford West Gwillimbury Fire & Emergency Services
  • City of Brockville - Brockville Fire Department


Hearing & Vision Assessment / Encapsulated Treadmill Test


The journey through the firefighter selection process is rigorous and multifaceted. At the heart of step four, candidates face a trio of assessments designed to ensure they're equipped for the demands of the profession. Let's delve into these critical stages.


Hearing Assessment


In this phase, candidates undergo testing within a soundproof booth to evaluate their ability to discern sounds across various frequencies and decibels. The assessment covers frequencies of 500 Hz/db, 1000 Hz/db, 2000 Hz/db, and 3000 Hz/db for both ears. It's important to note:


  • No hearing aid devices are allowed during the test.
  • Acceptable hearing loss must not exceed 40 decibels at the specified frequencies.
  • A fee of $45 applies, with certification valid for two years upon passing.

Vision Assessment

Vision evaluation is conducted by an optometrist chosen by the candidate, who must complete and stamp the OFAI-provided vision form. The assessment adheres to the NFPA 1582 vision standards, encompassing:

  • Visual and color acuity
  • Binocular and peripheral vision
  • Ocular health
  • Category A and B medical conditions

For full details, please visit the OFAI page on this topic, it can be found here.


Encapsulated Treadmill Test

Following the completion of necessary waivers and a pre-appraisal screening, candidates are challenged with the encapsulated treadmill test, designed to assess physical capability. Key points include:


  • Attire consists of shorts, a t-shirt, coveralls, and full PPE—excluding firefighter boots, with running shoes instead. The total gear weight is approximately 51 pounds, provided by the OFAI.
  • The test evaluates physical fitness and endurance, requiring a minimum of 18 minutes on the treadmill.
  • Monitoring includes expired gases and heart rate, with a test fee of $100.
  • Certification is valid for six months upon passing.

The test progresses through four phases, starting at 3.5mph with increasing grades, culminating in a challenging increase in speed until the candidate can no longer continue, followed by a cooldown period.


Understanding these requirements is crucial for aspiring firefighters, setting the stage for success in their journey to serving the community.



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OFAI Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment


The OFAI Firefighter Technical Skill Assessment contain a total of six tasks that need to be completed. 


What tasks must I preform for my OFAI Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment?


ropesandknots Prepare for OFAI Testing

Ropes and Knots

To excel in the upcoming evaluation, it's crucial that you arrive fully prepared, donning your complete set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), though you won't need to activate the air supply just yet.

This segment of the assessment will test your proficiency in knot-tying—a fundamental skill for any firefighter. You'll be asked to masterfully create and explain the purpose of five essential knots as outlined in the IFSTA 7 guide. These knots include:

  •     The Overhand Safety
  •     The Clove Hitch
  •     The Figure-Eight
  •     The Figure-Eight on a Bight
  •     The Figure-Eight follow through

Fear not about memorizing the order of these knots; the evaluator will guide you through each one. After you tie a knot, you'll immediately receive feedback. Should there be any discrepancies from the expected standard, you'll have the opportunity to adjust and perfect your technique on the spot.

Successfully tying and elucidating the use of these five knots is your ticket to advancing in the evaluation process.

Next, you'll showcase the practicality of your knot-tying skills. Though actual hoisting isn't required, you'll demonstrate how to correctly prepare for hoisting equipment using two specific applications:

  •   Hoisting a ladder with the use of a Figure-Eight on a Bight, complemented by a Clove Hitch and an Overhand Safety.
  •   Securing a power saw with two Figure-Eight Follow throughs for safe hoisting.
Your ability to execute these knots will be assessed based on their final form, ensuring they match the precise standards depicted in the IFSTA 7 Essentials Manual. This means each knot you tie must be a mirror image of those illustrated in the manual to meet the evaluation criteria.

You're allocated 10 minutes to complete this portion of the assessment. This is not only a test of your technical prowess but also your ability to perform under time constraints, reflecting the real-world demands of firefighting. Prepare well, and approach this challenge with confidence and precision.
ladder Prepare for OFAI Testing

Ladder Component Identification and 10M Ladder Climb

In this stage of your assessment, you will be fully equipped in your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) along with your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), although it will remain inactive.


Additionally, you will need to don a safety harness, ensuring your utmost safety during the skill evaluation.


Your task will begin with a thorough identification test of ten specific components across both roof and extension ladders.


These components will be pointed out by the evaluator, and you are afforded two chances to accurately name each one.


Achieving this correctly is crucial, as it allows you to advance in the assessment. Failure to do so within two attempts will unfortunately result in not passing this phase.


Once you've successfully demonstrated your knowledge of ladder components, the assessment takes a more practical turn.


Under the evaluator's direction, you will embark on a climb up a 10-meter ladder, stopping at a clearly marked green taped rung. Here, you will execute a precise leg lock, a technique that will then enable you to safely retrieve an axe from below.


Continuing your ascent, your next milestone is the red taped rung.


Upon reaching it, you will again perform a leg lock—this time, you have the flexibility to choose either leg.


Following this, you will release the lock, proceed up the ladder, and place the axe on the balcony.


It's then crucial to transition safely from the ladder to the balcony, where you will signal your progress by ringing a bell.


The final leg of this challenge involves you safely descending back onto the ladder, reclaiming the axe, and making your way down to the ground.


A strict time limit of 10 minutes is allocated for the completion of this assessment, emphasizing not only your physical agility and technique but also your time management skills and ability to perform under pressure.


Approach this task with a blend of precision, safety, and efficiency to demonstrate your readiness for the demands of firefighting.

scba Prepare for OFAI Testing

Claustrophobia Assessment

For this phase of your assessment, you'll need to be fully prepared with your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), and a face mask that simulates zero visibility conditions by being blacked-out.


This setup is designed to closely mimic the challenging conditions you may face during real-life firefighting operations.


Your task begins with a focused approach towards a designated structure. Upon receiving a signal from your evaluator, you'll activate your SCBA to breathe air and enter the structure. This marks the start of the test of your ability to navigate under pressure.


Inside, you'll find yourself in a maze, which you must traverse from start to finish.


Each obstacle you encounter must be dealt with as it comes, using your training and instincts to find your way through. The ultimate goal is to exit the maze exactly where you entered, having successfully navigated its entirety.


It's crucial to maintain a crawl position throughout this exercise. Any deviation from this—be it standing up, squatting, attempting to bypass or physically alter the obstacles—will immediately disqualify you.


Similarly, any tampering with your SCBA, whether partially or fully, will also lead to a disqualification.


Should you find the conditions inside the maze to be overwhelming at any point, it's imperative that you communicate this to your evaluator.


While opting to do so will conclude your assessment prematurely and not in your favour, it's essential for your safety and well-being.


You are allocated 10 minutes to complete this assessment, underscoring the importance of not only your physical dexterity and problem-solving skills but also your ability to manage stress, maintain orientation, and persevere under simulated emergency conditions. This challenge is a testament to the mental and physical resilience required in the demanding role of a firefighter.

ventilation trailer Prepare for OFAI Testing

Roof Ventilation

Embarking on this task requires you to be fully equipped with your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), actively utilizing the air supply to replicate the conditions faced during real-life firefighting operations.


Your mission is to carry the necessary equipment up a roof ladder to perform a critical task: creating an inspection hole on the roof.


This begins with the proper deployment of the roof ladder, a process that not only involves physical placement but also a keen assessment to ensure the roof's stability and safety for work.


Upon securing your position on the roof, your objective is to cut a precise square inspection hole at a specific location indicated by your evaluator.


This task must be executed with meticulous attention to detail, following a prescribed sequence of cuts.


It is essential that your cuts are confined within two pre-painted lines on the roof, with the goal of removing only the designated inner square of material.


After completing the cut, communication with the evaluator is key.


Inform them of your progress and seek permission to proceed to the next step.


Be mindful of the dimensions of your cut: exceeding the boundaries of the outer square leads to automatic failure, whereas a cut that's too small may be corrected upon the evaluator's discretion.


Following approval from the evaluator, your next move is to safely descend the ladder and return to the ground.


This assessment, allocated a time limit of 10 minutes, not only tests your technical skills in using firefighting equipment but also your ability to perform under pressure, adhere to precise instructions, and ensure safety in a simulated yet potentially hazardous environment.


It's a demonstration of the proficiency, caution, and situational awareness essential for the firefighting profession.

ladderraise Prepare for OFAI Testing

Seven Meter Ladder Raise / Roof Ladder Deployment

For this part of your assessment, you're expected to be fully outfitted in your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), though you won't be using the air supply. 


Additionally, you'll need to be equipped with a safety harness, ensuring your safety throughout this skill test.


Your task begins with the proper lifting and handling of a 7-meter ladder, where you will be demonstrating a one-firefighter flat raise technique, extending the ladder to its full length.


This process tests not only your physical strength and technique but also your ability to follow safe lifting practices.


Once the ladder is fully extended and correctly positioned, the evaluator will assess its placement. If the evaluator advises that adjustments are needed, you must promptly address these issues to ensure the ladder's stability and safety for further operations.


Upon receiving approval from the evaluator that it is safe to proceed, your next step involves climbing the 7-meter ladder to deploy a roof ladder.


It's crucial to remember that for critical actions—such as raising the fly section of the ladder and before climbing—you are encouraged to seek the assistance of the evaluation staff.


This is to ensure the base of the ladder is securely butted and steadied, providing a safe environment for your ascent and descent.


These moments are the exceptions when requesting help is permissible.


Timing for this assessment commences the moment you lift the 7-meter ladder and concludes when both you and the roof ladder have safely returned to the ground.


You are allotted 10 minutes to navigate through this task, highlighting the importance of efficiency, safety, and precision in your actions.


This assessment serves not only as a test of your physical capabilities and adherence to safety protocols but also as an opportunity to demonstrate your proficiency in using essential firefighting equipment under time constraints.

hydrant Prepare for OFAI Testing

Hose Connections and Advancing Hose line

In this segment of your assessment,you will be fully equipped with your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), although the air supply will not be utilized during this task. 


This setup ensures you are prepared under conditions that closely simulate actual firefighting operations.

Your primary objective is to demonstrate proficiency in assembling and connecting hoses and appliances, mirroring the precision and safety standards expected on an actual fire ground. This includes the following key steps:


1) Install the Hydrant Gate Valve: Begin by correctly positioning the hydrant gate valve at the designated point. This is crucial for controlling the water supply during operations.

2) Establish a Water Supply: Connect a 100mm hose from the hydrant to the pump panel on the fire apparatus. This step is fundamental in ensuring an adequate water supply for firefighting efforts.

3) Deploy Discharge Hoses: From the pump panel, extend two lengths of 65mm hose. This involves careful handling to prevent any kinks or twists that could impede water flow.

4) Attach Gated Wye: Connect a gated wye to the end of the 65mm hose. This appliance is vital for dividing the water flow into two separate lines, allowing for versatile firefighting tactics.

5) Connect Attack Lines: Attach two 45mm attack lines to the gated wye. These lines are essential for direct firefighting efforts, allowing for targeted water application.

6) Attach Nozzles: Secure a nozzle to each of the 45mm attack lines. The nozzle is the final component that controls the direction and flow of water, crucial for effective firefighting.


Upon completing these connections, you must communicate with the evaluator, informing them of your progress and seeking permission to proceed to the next phase of the assessment.

Following the evaluator's approval, you will move on to demonstrate your ability to handle a charged hose line effectively.


This involves advancing the charged hose three meters using the technique outlined in the Firefighter Physical Ability Test (FPAT) and then accurately directing water through a specified target.

You are allocated 10 minutes to complete this comprehensive task.


This assessment not only tests your technical skills in hose and appliance management but also your ability to operate under pressure, demonstrating efficiency, safety, and precision in a simulated fire ground environment.

Please Note:  To maximize your chances of success in the Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment, it's highly recommended that you come equipped with a solid foundation in firefighting training. This preparation can stem from a variety of sources, including pre-service programs, training provided by private institutions, or hands-on experience gained through volunteer firefighting. Such background ensures you're not only familiar with the theoretical aspects of firefighting but also have practical experience that can be applied during the assessment.

The Technical Skills Assessment is meticulously designed to reflect the occupational requirements outlined in NFPA 1001 for Level I and Level II firefighters. Additionally, the tasks and equipment you'll encounter are detailed in the IFSTA's Essentials of Firefighting and Fire Department Operations (7th Edition). This guide is an invaluable resource, offering comprehensive insights into the essentials of firefighting practices and procedures.

Reviewing these materials thoroughly before attempting the assessment is crucial. It will help you understand the expectations for each skill evolution, familiarize yourself with the specific equipment used, and grasp the instructions that need to be followed. Such preparation not only enhances your technical proficiency but also builds confidence in executing the tasks under assessment conditions.

Remember, the key to excelling in this assessment lies in a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Engaging with the recommended resources and applying your training on the ground will significantly contribute to your readiness and performance in the Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment.

Six Quick Tips for the OFAI Stage 3 Skills Test


 Maintain Professionalism


It's essential, though perhaps not always apparent, to approach each phase of the testing process with professionalism.


Surprisingly, there are numerous instances where candidates exhibit either excessive confidence, bordering on arrogance, or display frustration upon learning they've not passed a specific station.


Should you find yourself not succeeding at a station, it's crucial to respond professionally.


Express gratitude to the evaluator for their time and leave with a renewed determination for future opportunities.


Understandably, not passing can be deeply disappointing, and you might even question the fairness of the decision.


However, voicing complaints at that moment will not alter the outcome and could potentially impact your future assessments adversely.


If you believe there has been a genuine oversight or error in your evaluation, it's important to know that there are formal channels for such concerns.


You are encouraged to submit a grievance form, available on the OFAI (Ontario Fire Administration Inc.) website, to ensure your case is reviewed appropriately.


This approach not only underscores your commitment to professionalism but also ensures your concerns are addressed through the proper avenues.

Maximize Your Preparation Time


At the outset of each station test, candidates are granted 5 minutes to acquaint themselves with the instructions.


This critical window offers a prime opportunity not only to thoroughly understand the task at hand but also to mentally prepare for the execution.


During this time, envision the steps you will take, assimilating the process ahead.


Moreover, this period allows you the first glance at the testing environment.


Take this chance to survey the area, noting the layout and any equipment you will be using. Strategically planning your approach based on this observation can prove invaluable.


Utilizing these minutes for mental preparation is equally beneficial.


A few deep breaths to center yourself can significantly enhance your focus and performance.


While it might feel somewhat awkward to stand in silence beside the proctor during this time, remember the ultimate goal: to succeed.


Embrace this preparation phase as a cornerstone of your strategy to excel.

Focus on Precision


Interestingly, it's not a lack of skills that leads most candidates to falter during their assessments; rather, it's minor oversights in task execution.


The Ontario Fire Administration Inc. (OFAI) places a significant emphasis on these details, considering even minor errors as grounds for disqualification.

Take, for instance, the roof prop station. Here, candidates are expected to refrain from touching any cut sections of the roof post-cutting. OFAI categorizes such actions as unsafe, reasoning that in real-life fire conditions, the roof piece would be excessively hot.


Despite the natural inclination to clear the cut piece manually, such actions are viewed critically.

This underscores the importance of meticulous attention to detail throughout each stage of the process.


Small actions can have big implications, so it's vital to proceed with caution and thoughtfulness, ensuring that every move aligns with safety protocols and assessment criteria.

Simplify Your Approach: One Section at a Time


The prospect of mastering all six stations for your assessment might seem daunting at first.


Each skill comes with its own set of details to remember, which can easily become overwhelming.

A strategic approach to manage this is by concentrating on one section, encompassing three stations, at a time.


This method not only helps streamline your focus but also significantly reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Typically, the sequence of stations isn’t disclosed in advance, adding an element of unpredictability.


However, once you complete the initial station, you can anticipate the next two based on their grouping.


For instance, if you start with the Medical Scenario, you can deduce that the SCBA Proficiency Test and the 10 Metre Ladder Climb will follow, as they are part of the same section.

At this juncture, it’s beneficial to mentally set aside the remaining three stations.


Direct your attention and energy towards preparing for the immediate next steps.


This focused approach allows you to channel your efforts more efficiently, enhancing your performance station by station.

Articulate and Highlight Your Actions


When navigating through each station, it's crucial to articulate and highlight every action you undertake.


This practice not only demonstrates your competency and understanding of the task at hand but also instills confidence in the evaluators about your abilities.


By verbalizing your actions, you effectively communicate your thought process and operational knowledge to the proctors.


This can lead to a perception of heightened competence and assurance, potentially drawing their focus away from scrutinizing your every move, especially compared to candidates who might appear more hesitant or less vocal.


It's natural to think that evaluators assess all candidates with equal rigour, and while this is their intention, evaluators are human too.


They might be naturally inclined to pay less attention to a candidate who displays a clear and confident command of their tasks.


Consider the roof prop scenario as a pertinent example.


As you ascend the roof, make it a point to audibly check the stability by announcing "SOUNDING ROOF!" with each step.


This not only adheres to safety protocols but also actively showcases your awareness and diligence to the evaluator, reinforcing their confidence in your capabilities.

Establish Your Rhythm


Every evolution in the assessment process is bound by a 10-minute time constraint.


While certain tasks, like the Medical Skills or the 10 Metre Ladder Climb, may not press you for time, others, such as the 7 Metre Ladder Raise or the Fine Motor Skills Hose Assembly, could push you to the brink of your time limit.

It's crucial, then, to adopt a brisk yet sustainable pace through each evolution.


The goal is to balance speed with accuracy—a delicate equilibrium that ensures you complete each task efficiently without oversight.

Finding this balance can be challenging, but it's essential for success.


The key is to move with purpose and deliberateness, allowing yourself to perform each action thoughtfully while keeping an eye on the clock.


This approach not only helps in managing the allocated time effectively but also in maintaining a level of calmness and precision in your execution.


Now that you have a solid understanding of what to expect. Found below are more ways to get ready for the OFAI.

  • Steve
  • Updated February 20, 2024