Firefighter and Paramedic Employment and Testing

​​Thank you for your interest in employment with the Bellingham Fire Department. The following information is provided to answer some of your questions about the firefighter recruitment process.


  • Entry:
    • Must have received a high school diploma or G. E. D.
    • Candidates must not have smoked tobacco products for a minimum of 24 months prior to application to be considered for employment as a firefighter. 
    • Must be 21 years of age.
    • Must be a U. S. citizen or a registered permanent resident able to work in the United States.
    • Must pass a pre-employment drug test.
    • Employment contingent upon passing a criminal convictions check, child and adult abuse records check and local background check with no felony convictions within last seven years.
    • Misdemeanor convictions will also be reviewed. A misdemeanor conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant but offenses within the last seven years may, by their nature and recentness, reveal a lack of specific qualifications for the position.
    • Valid Washington State driver’s license and good driving record.  Candidates must submit a three-year driving abstract prior to hire. No record of driver’s license suspension or revocation in any state within the last three years.
    • Must possess or obtain a Washington State Emergency Vehicle Accident Prevention (EVAP) certification within 90 days of initial hire.
    • Must possess Washington State EMT certification or acquire within one year of employment and maintain for the duration of employment.
    • Successful completion of Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).
    • Must certify ability to meet and/or pass testing of all required physical ability and medical standards, including ability to swim at distance, tread water and retrieve a submerged weight.
    • Willingness and ability to work at considerable heights (up to 100 feet) on a ladder.
  • Lateral:
    • Must meet all entry-level requirements.
    • Two years of full-time, paid experience as a structural firefighter with an agency responsible for residential and commercial fire responses, at least one year of which must have been within the last three years.
    • Graduate of a recruit academy and/or National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001 Firefighter I certification.  Documentation of completion or certification required.
    • Must possess Washington State EMT certification or have ability to obtain within 90 days of hire.

Recruitment Process

Entry Firefighter and Entry Firefighter/Paramedic: The City of Bellingham partners with National Testing Network, Inc (NTN) to provide full testing services for the position of Firefighter. Please see below for more information on current testing windows.

Entry Firefighter:

For more information on the FireTEAM Test and CPAT, go to National Testing Network, select Fire, and sign up for the Bellingham Fire Department. The testing window for the July 2023 Academy is now open through March 5, 2023. For more information, please click here to visit the job announcement.

What to expect at the National Testing Network website:

  • Completion of the application process
  • Review information related to the Bellingham Fire Department firefighter position, including minimum requirements, salary and benefits.
  • Detailed information about the testing process for both the written exam and CPAT testing.
  • Opportunity to take online practice tests at
  • Schedule your own convenient test time. Tests are offered multiple times a week, including Saturdays.
  • Take high quality job simulation tests in a standardized, fair testing environment.

A Step by Step Guide to using the National Testing Network Site

Lateral Firefighter and Lateral Firefighter/Paramedic: The Bellingham Fire Department is now accepting applications for Lateral Firefighter and Lateral Firefighter/Paramedic. Please apply online by clicking here. Note: A valid CPAT certification is required as part of the application. A current valid CPAT certification will be accepted from NTN or another agency licensed by the IAFF/IAFC as a licensed CPAT provider.

Informational Sessions

Upcoming Opportunities to learn about Becoming a Bellingham Fire Department Firefighter:

  • Informational Sessions: The Bellingham Fire Department will be hosting optional virtual informational meetings about becoming a BFD Firefighter. Information will be shared specifically for Entry or Lateral but you are welcome to attend any session. Please click the session listed below to register. Registration is required to join the session. Sessions are not recorded.
  • CPAT/Firefighter Demonstration: The Bellingham Fire Department will be hosting an optional demonstration for the CPAT at Station 43, located at 5368 Northwest Drive, Bellingham, WA. Registration is required to attend. Click here to register.
    • Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 8:00am
    • Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 12:00pm

Compensation and Benefits

The 2023 salary for the position of firefighter is $7,038/month; the full salary range is $7,038 – $8,929/month. An extensive benefits package is provided including medical, dental, vision and prescription drug coverage. Employees are subject to the provisions of a union contract. The collective bargaining agreement is available online​.

If you have any questions regarding the recruitment process, contact Human Resources or email the Bellingham Fire Department directly at  Also, visit the Fire Department’s web page.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Our environment is characterized by respect for cultural backgrounds, belief systems, and ethnic diversity. The City of Bellingham is an Equal Opportunity Employer and values diversity in its workforce. We do not make decisions on the basis of an individual’s race, religion, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age (40+), disability, retaliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, honorably discharged veteran or military status, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, or any other basis prohibited by local, state, or federal law. All are encouraged to apply for employment.

Reasonable accommodation and/or assistance will be gladly provided for any applicant with sensory or non-sensory impairments, upon request of the human resource department can be reached at 360-778-8228.