For questions regarding recruitment, contact us during regular business hours:

[email protected]


We encourage all applicants to create a NEOGOV account and a job profile. 

Interested in a firefighting career with us? Fill out the 2021 Job Interest Form


Recruitment Facts

The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services offers exceptional and diverse career opportunities for men and women seeking professional development and satisfaction. With excellent salaries and benefits, a variety of job assignments, unlimited opportunities for advancement and the chance to make a profound difference in the community. 

Minimum Qualifications 

  • Must possess a valid Motor Vehicle Class C Operator's driver's license issued by the State of residence; 
  • Possess a High School Diploma or GED; 
  • Must provide documentation of eligibility to legally work in the United States. 

As a condition of employment, persons selected for all future training classes shall not use tobacco products in any form throughout the term of their employment whether on or off duty. Any use of tobacco products during the term of employment shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action and/or termination. 


Application information will be updated when available.

You must apply through the County's job portal at

Recruitment FAQs

How long is the academy?  

The academy is 26 weeks long.

Do I have to fill out an application before taking the written test?  

Registration is done online only at when firefighter/emt trainee openings are available for posting.

What does the written exam consist of?  

The written examination consists of multiple-choice questions. You will be given two hours and twenty minutes to complete the exam. There are four sections to the test, including Video Based Human Relations, Animated Mechanical Aptitude, Reading, and Math. 

Do I have to sign up to take the physical test?  

You will be invited to sign up for the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) only if you pass the written entrance exam.

How long will the hiring process take?  

The hiring process involves various steps and could take up to six months. Your cooperation in completing the necessary paperwork at each stage of the process will help make the process quicker.

When is the next test date?  

Written and physical exams are offered once a year if HCDFRS is in a hiring mode. If you fail the written test, you may retest after twelve months. If you fail the physical ability test, you may retake the test the next time it's offered.

Where does testing take place?  

All testing is held at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center, 2200 Scott Wheeler Drive, Marriottsville, MD 21104.

What is the proper attire for written testing?  

Suit and tie are not required.

Is the academy a live-in academy?  

No, the academy is non-residential. The academy is held Monday-Friday, typically from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Based on training needs, some weekends and evening hours are required.

Am I paid while attending the academy?  

Yes, you will be paid at the rate stated on your hire date.

 What is the maximum age to become a firefighter/EMT?  

There is no age limit. As long as you're able to pass all phases of the process, you're eligible.

Will my military experience help?  

Each applicant is evaluated individually throughout the application process. It is a very competitive process, and as such, every aspect of your life is considered when making a selection for hire.

Can I go to school while I'm employed with Howard County Fire and Rescue?  

Yes. The Howard County Fire and Rescue offers tuition reimbursement at any accredited college of your choice. Degrees must be related to the Public Safety Sector.

After graduating from the academy, can I request an assignment?  

You are assigned based on operational needs.

Written Exam

Those who are selected at the conclusion of the application submission will be invited to take the written exam.


The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) will be offered to those candidates who have passed the written exam. Once you have received a notification that you have passed the written test, links to a Mentorship and Testing Sign Up Genius will be forwarded to the email address you provided. There is no need to call Human Resources inquiring about the CPAT schedule.

You must bring your photo ID and the completed Physician Authorization form. All candidates MUST wear LONG pants.

Please review and prepare the following forms (as applicable):

CPAT Orientation Guide

CPAT Preparation Guide

CPAT Test Evaluation Form

CPAT Physician Authorization Form


A day in the life of a trainee during their first two weeks:

An instructional video of the CPAT course:


Howard County Fire & Rescue is looking for professional, dedicated, and enthusiastic men and women that value the importance of serving the community. Take the time to ask yourself what values you hold as a high priority in your own life. Howard County FF/EMT’s and Paramedics focus on coming together as a team during each shift to make the best decisions on each call they run. They are trusted by the local community to use all the skills learned in some of the most challenging situations. 

Interview information will be disseminated as it becomes available.

Conditional Offer

Conditional offers will be sent to candidates selected by the Human Resources Division and will include information on the next step.

Background Check

Background check information will be disseminated as it becomes available.

Medical Evaluation

Physical Fitness is essential to having a successful career as a FF/EMT or FF/Paramedic. All potential candidates will have a thorough medical evaluation in accordance with NFPA 1582 to see if they meet the qualified criteria for a career with HCDFRS.

Psychological Evaluation

Information on each potential candidates psychological evaluation will be given when they receive a conditional offer of employment.

Drug Screening

Howard County Fire and Rescue has no tolerance for substance abuse of any kind. A drug screening will be assigned to each potential candidate upon receipt of conditional offer of employment.

Final Offer

Congratulations! If you satisfactorily complete all steps of the application process and are selected, each candidate will be given a final offer of employment with the academy start date. There will also be information sent to you on uniform fitting dates and Family Orientation Night.

Daily Activities at a Fire Station

In addition to responding to fire and medical emergencies, life inside a firehouse is packed with activity. HCDFRS career personnel work on one of three shifts (A,B,C). Each shift works for 24 hours at the fire station and then has 48 hours off. During the 24 hours on duty, personnel run calls, train, shower, eat and sleep at the fire station. Firefighters have a wide range of responsibilities, not only to hone the skills required of firefighting and medical emergencies, but also for the upkeep of the firehouse, equipment, and all the apparatus. All firefighters are on rotating schedules. Everyday activities firefighters engage in include:

  • Daily checks of all apparatus (checking fuel levels, examining for damage or wear, etc)

  • Inventory of supplies on the apparatus and in the station

  • Cleaning the fire station – to include the bathrooms, bunk area, mopping, etc.

  • Discussions of safety drills and creating safety messages to share with personnel

  • Daily training drills

  • Participate in mandatory fitness and conditioning program

  • Maintaining professional appearance and appropriate personal hygiene

  • Attend workshops or classes designed to inform firefighters on the latest advancements in medical technology, fire science, emergency treatment and prevention 

  • Cooking the meals

Discussion of recent or past firefighting, emergency medical responses and working out strategies to cope with unexpected occurrences during emergencies. 

Every activity is important and given attention, no matter how small it might seem!  A fire engine cannot respond to an emergency if it is low on fuel. A face mask can cause a fatality if it has a crack in it. A firefighter’s entire day is spent, in one way or another, preparing for emergencies. In our department SAFETY is the top priority!

Teamwork is another key component of HCDFRS. Modern fire stations have separate sleeping and bathroom/shower facilities for men and women. Older stations have been retrofitted with separate bathroom/shower facilities, but common sleeping areas remain. The Department makes every effort to provide the best available solution to privacy issues at each station.

Like members of the armed services, firefighters and EMTs follow a command structure based on rank, with firefighters and EMTs at the lower end of the scale. A paramilitary structure requires you to take orders from those of higher rank. When on duty, firefighters cannot leave the station to take care of personal business nor can they make or receive cell phone calls while en route to or working on an incident. Firefighters are expected to come work on time every day they are scheduled to work including during snowstorms, hurricanes or other severe weather.  Lateness is not tolerated. You are held accountable for your behavior – off and on the job, inside and outside Howard County. 

Salary and Benefits

A Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) firefighter trainee has many rewards, financially and personally. HCDFRS offers an exceptional compensation package which includes the following: 

Excellent starting salary: Entry-level firefighter trainee positions earn $52,815 annually. Trainees also receive full pay during Academy training. 

Excellent benefits: Under the County's flexible benefits plan called County Flex, employees may elect to enroll in medical insurance plans, dental insurance plans, optional life insurance, dependent life insurance, and health care and dependent care flexible spending accounts. 

Excellent career opportunities: HCDFRS is not just about fighting fire! There are opportunities in Emergency Medical Services, Fire Inspection, Search and Rescue, Swift Water Rescue, Hazardous Materials and much more! Our firefighter trainees are also trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) - 80% of the calls we respond to are for medical emergencies. 

Excellent working environment: HCDFRS is committed to diversity in the workplace. We’re a diverse group that welcomes all races, ethnic groups and backgrounds. As part of our recruitment efforts, we are also focused on supporting our military veterans. 

Excellent people: HCDFRS has a people friendly family that helps the community, helps each other and helps people in general. We know that we’re an integral part of your community, your neighborhood and your county. We’re not just saving people, but helping them as well. 

Excellent reputation: We're known around the region as one of the best fire and rescue departments in the state! Those who join our department will have an opportunity to learn innovative medical techniques, learn best practices in CPR and make a true difference in the lives of the citizens we serve. 

Additional benefits include annual salary review and longevity increments: 

  • Generous vacation and sick leave 
  • Uniforms and personal protective equipment
  • An educational assistance program 
  • Health, dental and life insurance coverage 
  • Representation by a certified labor organization, the Howard County Professional Firefighters Association, Local 2000 
  • Excellent retirement and deferred compensation plans 
  • Opportunities for career advancement

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