OFAI Preparation & Testing

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 second stage of step four consists of three steps in order to proceed to the next step. 

Let's break these down for you...

Hearing Assessment

  • Candidates are tested inside a soundproof booth and must be able to hear the various sounds and various decibels. 
  • Both ears will be tested at 500 Hz/db, 1000 Hz/db, 2000 Hx/db, and 3000 Hz/db.
  • You are not allowed to have any type of devices to assist your hearning.
  • Permitted hearing lost must not be greater than 40 decibels in either ear at the noted Hz/db above.
  • Any loss greater than 40 db is considered a fail.
  • The cost of this test is $45.
  • If passed, this certificate if valid for two years.

Vision Assessment

It's important to note that the vision assessment is completed by the optometrist of your choice. They are required to fill out and stamp a vision form provided by the OFAI. You are responsible for all associated costs.

What standards must I meet for my vision test?

In order to pass your vision test, you need to pass the NFPA 1582 vision requirements. These requirements are:

  • Visual Acuity 
  • Color Vision
  • Binocular Vision
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Ocular Health
  • Category A Medical Conditions
  • Category B Medical Conditions.

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

Encapsulated Treadmill Test

After signing all the waivers and successfully passing the pre-appraisal screening, you will be asked to complete the treadmill test.

Quick facts about the Encapsulated Treadmill test

  • Your attire will be - shorts, t-shirt, coveralls, full PPE (except firefighter boots - running shoes will be used). This does include an SCBA (although you won't be under air). The total weight is about 51 pounds. The PPE will be provided by the OFAI.
  • This test is designed to evaluate your physical capabilities and if your considered a physically active individual.
  • To pass this test you need to be on the treadmill for a minimum of 18 minutes.
  • While preforming this test, they will be monitoring your expired gases (exhalation) and heart rate.
  • The cost for this section is $100.
  • If passed, this certificate is valid for six months.

What are the phases of the encapsulated treadmill test?

  • Phase One - 3.5mph, increased in grade over 5 minutes.
  • Phase Two - 3.5 mph and a 10% grade for eight minutes.
  • Phase Three - 3.5mph, 1% grade increase every minute to a max of 15%. Once 15% is reached, speed increase by 0.5 mph each minute until failure.
  • Phase Four - Once failure has been reached, you are required to complete 5 minutes on a flat treadmill, slowly.


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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 OFAI Preparation & Testing

Ropes and Knots

You must be dressed in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and SCBA (not on air).

You must demonstrate the proper forming of five knots and explain the fundamental purpose (as described in IFSTA 7) of each knot to the evaluator.

The knots are as follows:

  1. Overhand Safety
  2. Clove Hitch
  3. Figure-Eight
  4. Figure-Eight on a Bight
  5. Figure-Eight follow through

The evaluator will prompt you with the knot you must tie, you are not required to memorize this list.  You will be advised if you are correct or incorrect after the tying of each knot. If you are incorrect, you must re-attempt creating that knot until you are successful.

You must correctly tie and explain all five knots to proceed to the next part of this evaluation.

You will then be required to demonstrate the practical application of two knots in preparation for hoisting equipment. You are not required to hoist the equipment.  

The knot applications are as follows:

  • Hoisting a Ladder using a Figure-Eight on a Bight, Clove Hitch, and Overhand Safety.
  • Hoisting a Power Saw using two Figure-Eight Follow throughs.

Due to the various sequential steps required to complete a finished knot properly, the evaluator will primarily evaluate the finished knot for accurateness compared to the IFSTA 7 Essentials Manual.

The completed knots must be identical to the illustrations found in this manual.

You have 10 minutes to complete this assessment.

ladder OFAI Preparation & Testing

Ladder Component Identification and 10M Ladder Climb

You must be dressed in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and SCBA (not on air).

You will be required to wear a safety harness for this skill.

You must correctly identify ten components of a roof and extension ladder.

These components will be indicated to you by the evaluator.

You will have two attempts to correctly identify all ten components.

Once you’ve identified all components correctly, the evaluator will allow you to proceed with the remainder of the assessment.

If you do not correctly identify all components after two attempts, you will fail the assessment.

When advised to proceed by the evaluator, climb the 10m ladder until you encounter a green taped rung.

You will perform the appropriate leg lock and retrieve an axe from the ground.

Once you’ve retrieved the axe you will continue to climb the ladder until you reach the red taped rung.

Once you've reached the red taped rung, perform a leg lock - left or right is acceptable for this rung.

Remove the leg lock and continue climbing up the ladder until you reach the balcony.

Place the axe on balcony, safely step off the ladder and onto the balcony, and ring the bell.

Safely climb back onto the ladder, retrieve the axe, and descend until you reach the ground.

You have 10 minutes to complete this assessment.

scba OFAI Preparation & Testing

Claustrophobia Assessment

Don full Personal Protective Equipment including SCBA and a blacked-out face mask.

Approach structure, on air, and enter the structure when advised by evaluator. 

Navigate your way through the entire maze, passing each obstacle as they are encountered. 

You must exit at the point of entry - once you’ve navigated the entire maze.

Remain in a crawl position. Any attempt to stand up, squat, crawl outside of, or remove obstacles while inside maze will constitute a failure.  

Partial or full removal of your SCBA is not permitted and will also result in failure.

If you feel uncomfortable inside the maze, please advise your evaluator.

The evaluation will end, and it will be considered a failure. 

You have 10 minutes to complete this assessment.

ventilation trailer OFAI Preparation & Testing

Roof Ventilation

You must be dressed in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and SCBA, on air, to perform this skill. 

You must take the required equipment up the roof ladder to create an inspection hole on the roof.

You must correctly deploy the roof ladder and demonstrate the actions required to determine the roof is safe to work on.

Once positioned on the roof, cut a square inspection hole at the spot indicated by the evaluator following the correct order of cuts.

You must cut between the two painted lines and safely remove the entire inner square ONLY.

You will advise the evaluator when you have completed cutting your hole and ask the evaluator if you can proceed.

If the hole exceeds the outer square, you will automatically fail. If the hole size is too small, the evaluator will allow you to correct the size.

Once the evaluator advises you can proceed, safely climb down the ladder, and return to the ground.

You have 10 minutes to complete this assessment.

ladderraise OFAI Preparation & Testing

Seven Meter Ladder Raise / Roof Ladder Deployment

You must be dressed in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and SCBA (not on air).

You will be required to wear a safety harness for this skill.

Using proper lifting techniques, pick up the 7m ladder and perform a one firefighter flat raise, fully extending the ladder.

Once the 7m ladder is correctly in place, the evaluator will inform you if it’s safe to proceed.

If the evaluator says “NO” you must make the appropriate corrections to proceed.

When advised it is safe to proceed, climb the 7m ladder and deploy the roof ladder safely and correctly. 

For safety reasons, you must request the assistance of the evaluation staff to butt and steady the 7m ladder before raising the fly and prior to climbing. 

These are the only times you can request assistance.

Time will start when the 7m ladder is picked up. Time stops when you and the roof ladder return to the ground.

You have 10 minutes to complete this assessment.

hydrant OFAI Preparation & Testing

Hose Connections and Advancing Hose line

You must be dressed in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and SCBA (not on air).

Make all connections with the appropriate hoses and appliances provided.

You must assemble hoses and appliances safely and properly, as you would on a fire ground.

Install the hydrant gate valve in the correct location.

Establish a water supply from the hydrant with a 100mm hose to the pump panel.

From the pump panel discharge, deploy two lengths of 65mm hose.

Attach gated wye and connect two 45mm attack lines.

Connect a nozzle to each 45mm attack line.
You will advise the evaluator when you establish these connections and ask the evaluator if you can proceed.

When the connections are successfully established, the evaluator will allow you to proceed to a separate charged hose.

You will fully advance this charged hose three (3) metres (following the technique used in the FPAT) and direct water through the hole in the target.

You have 10 minutes to complete this assessment. 

Please Note:  In order for candidates to be successful in the Firefighter Technical Skills Assessment, some form of formal firefighter training should be completed prior to attempting the six evolutions. This includes, but is not limited to: pre-service, private institution training, and/or volunteer firefighting experience. Firefighter Technical Skills Assessments are based on occupational requirements, with many of the skills coming from NFPA 1001 Level I, Level II, and images/material found in IFSTA's Essentials of Firefighting and Fire Department Operations (Version 7). Candidates are encouraged to review these materials to ensure they are familiar with the equipment required and instructions for each skill.

Six Quick Tips for the OFAI Stage 3 Skills Test

 Be Professional

This one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at the stories of candidates going through the testing, either acting overconfident and appearing arrogant or complaining when they get told they’ve failed the station.

If you fail a station, PLEASE remain professional, thank the proctor for his/her time, and go home hungry for the next opportunity you get. Yes, I know it feels horrible to fail, and you may disagree with how they failed you, but your complaining will not help you.

In fact, if you make the proctors angry enough, you’ll be red flagged for the next time you go through the testing.

That said, if you think you have a legitimate case against failing a particular evolution, you can always fill out a grievance form off the OFAI website.

Use The Allotted Time Before Beginning Each Station Test

Before each station, they allot candidates 5 minutes to review instructions before commencing the test.

Use the 5 minutes to read over the instructions and visualize what you're going to be doing. Also, this will probably be the first time you see the testing ground in front of you. Give yourself time to scan the fire ground, see what's in front of you, and plan your tasks accordingly.

You can also use this time to simply take a few deep breaths and calm yourself before jumping in.

It may be a little award standing there next to the proctor silently, but passing is the most important thing.

Pay Attention To Detail

Most candidates aren’t failed because they lack the skills required to pass; it’s because they make the slightest error in completing a task. OFAI, however, views a lot of small slip-ups as critical mistakes, leading to failure.

For example, during the roof prop station, if candidates handle any of the cut sections of the roof after cutting, they’ll automatically fail. OFAI views taking any pieces of the roof as unsafe because the piece of roof is hot in a fire condition.

So although it may be instinct to bend over and push the piece of plywood through the hole with your hand, think before you act.

Paying attention to every little detail while going through each station is crucial.

Focus On One Section At A Time

Remembering what you need to do for all six stations can be overwhelming.

You need to remember so many little things for each skill, but focusing on one section (3 stations) at a time will help you concentrate and be less overwhelmed.

You most likely won't know which station you're about to do next because there is no particular order. Once you complete the first station, you'll know the grouping of stations.

For example, if your first station is the Medical Scenario, you'll know the SCBA Proficiency Test and 10 Metre Ladder Climb will come next because they're all within the Section One grouping.

At this point, you need to block out the other three stations and focus on what you need to do for the upcoming stations.

Verbalize/Emphasize EVERYTHING

While performing tasks in each station, you must verbalize and emphasize everything you’re doing.

Doing this will have proctors convinced you know what you’re doing. As a result, they may not pay as close attention to you as the other candidate, who looks shaky and nervous.

You might say to yourself, “the proctors are there to test candidates equally”. Yes, they are, but they’re also only human. If they see someone much more confident and know what they’re doing, subconsciously, the proctor won’t be paying as close of attention to that candidate versus the other nervous/quiet one.

Going back to the roof prop as an example, when you start traveling up the roof you should sound the roof on both sides of the ladder, ALL the way up, verbalizing “SOUNDING ROOF!”. This reassures the evaluator you know what you’re doing.

Find Your Pace

Each evolution has a time limit of 10 minutes. Some evolutions, such as the Medical Skills or the 10 Metre Ladder Climb, won’t be an issue for time. But some evolutions, such as the 7 Metre Ladder Raise or the Fine Motor Skills Hose Assembly, will have you tight for time.

That’s why it’s essential to keep a quick pace in your step when going through the evolutions.

However, you don’t want to be going too quickly that you forget something. You must find the middle ground (It’s easier said than done, I know!).

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

  • Steve
  • Updated April 4, 2023