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?

ladder OFAI Preparation & Testing

Ten Meter Ladder Climb, Ropes, Knots & Tool Lift

You will be required to wear a safety harness for this skill. Prepare the axe for lifting using the appropriate rope & clove hitch knot with two half hitches.

You must then tie two additional knots.

You must tie a bowline knot around the ladder prop as though you would be hoisting it, and then a Figure 8 on a bight knot on a separate rope.

When you have completed your knots, you must ask the evaluator if you can proceed.

If the evaluator says no, you must determine and fix your errors.

When advised to proceed by the evaluator, climb the 10m ladder until you encounter a rung with tape wrapped around it and apply a proper leg lock around the taped rung.

Take both hands off the ladder, reach around and touch each of your toes.

Climb to the 3rd floor balcony and step off the ladder and onto the balcony.

Raise the axe up to balcony, and then lower back to the ground, using the hand-over-hand method. Climb back onto the ladder and descend.

scba OFAI Preparation & Testing

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Proficiency Test

Don SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and approach SCBA Proficiency structure on air.

Enter the structure when indicated to do so by evaluator and perform a proper search technique through the entire maze, passing each obstacle as they are encountered.

You must exit at point of entry, once the proper search has been completed.

Remain in a crawl position.

Do not attempt to stand up, crawl outside or remove obstacles while inside maze.

This will constitute a fail.

If at any point you feel uncomfortable inside the maze please inform your evaluator.

The evolution will end, and this will constitute a fail.

The partial or full removal of the SCBA is also not permitted, and will result in a fail.

For our purposes today the evaluator will accompany you to observe you while you are being tested.

medical OFAI Preparation & Testing

Medical Skills

In this skill, you will perform your assessment and verbalize your treatment for all conditions and injuries discovered.

You must conduct your assessment as you would in the field, including communicating with your simulated patient.

As you progress through this skills test, you must state everything you are assessing.

Specific clinical information not obtainable by visual or physical inspection, for example respiration, signs and symptoms, will be provided to you by asking the evaluator after you demonstrate how you would normally obtain that information in the field.

You can assume you have at least one firefighter with you who is trained to your level of care.

They will correctly perform the verbal treatments and direction that you provide as necessary.

You must demonstrate all skills prior to delegating.

The evaluator will acknowledge your treatments and may ask for additional information if clarification is needed.

ventilation trailer OFAI Preparation & Testing

Roof Ventilation

You must choose the equipment needed to be taken up the roof ladder to ventilate the roof.

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

Once positioned on the roof, cut a vent hole by removing all of the inner marked square and without cutting the outside marked square in the location indicated by the evaluator.

You will ask the evaluator to proceed when you have advised the evaluator that you have completed cutting your hole.

The evaluator will the hole is of the correct size.

If the hole size is too large, you will automatically fail.

If the hole size is too small, you will have the opportunity to correct the size.

If the evaluator advises the hole is the sufficient size, you will simulate opening the ceiling below the roof using the pike pole to make contact with the base of the structure three times.

Once completed, you will proceed to climb down the ladder, return to the ground and place equipment on the ground at the base of the ladder.

For our purposes today the evaluator will stay at the foot of the roof simulator and observe you.

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).

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

Inform the evaluator whether you will complete a beam or flat raise.

These are the only acceptable raises. Once the 7m ladder is correctly in place, 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 proceed to deploy the roof ladder correctly, and safely.

Once the evolution is complete, return the roof ladder to the ground.

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

Your time will start when the 7m ladder is picked up.

Time will stop when you and the roof ladder return to the ground.

hydrant OFAI Preparation & Testing

Fine Motor Skills Hose Assembly

Make all connections with the appropriate hoses and appliances provided.

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

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

Establish a hose lay from the pump panel with a 100mm hose to two 65mm hoses.

One 65mm hose will terminate with a 65mm nozzle.

The other 65 mm hose will terminate with a gated wye reduced to two 38mm discharges.

One 45mm attack line must be attached to the 38mm gated wye and terminated with a combination nozzle on the end.

Once these connections have been successfully established, the evaluator will advise you to proceed to the charged line and direct water through the hole on the target.

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 October 2, 2022