The 10 Most Idiotic Questions from FDNY Entrance Exams


While reporting this week’s cover story “Hosed,” the Voice obtained two FDNY Entrance Exams (identified as “7029” and “2043”). We took all the questions ourselves, and were kind of amazed at how idiotic some of them were.

Answering them, we had to wonder: why shouldn’t minorities be expected to do as well on these questions as white people? But equally troubling was this thought: is answering these questions correctly really going to make someone a good firefighter?

Here are what we considered the 10 most painfully obvious questions. Take them yourself and let us know what you think.

10. A group of firefighters and their officer respond to a fifth floor apartment in a seven-story building. When they arrive at the apartment, they are told that the contents of a wastepaper basket was on fire, and the fire was extinguished prior to their arrival. The officer instructs the firefighters to ventilate, or remove, the smoke from the apartment by first using a method that will not cause damage to property. Which one of the following would be the most appropriate method for the firefighters to use to remove the smoke?

A) Breaking out all the windows with a crowbar.
B) Pulling down the ceiling with a six-foot hook.
C) Cutting through the floors with an eight-pound axe.
D) Manually opening all the windows and removing the screen.

9. Firefighters are required to operate on the subway tracks during emergencies in the subway stations. Which one of the following would present the greatest threat to the safety of a firefighter working on the subway tracks?

A) A subway platform crowded with people.
B) Rubbish burning in a small garbage can located on a subway platform.
C) A subway car entering a station.
D) A maintenance crew working on the track.

8. Firefighters conduct building inspections to locate potential life-threatening conditions in the even there is a fire. Which one of the following would the most-serious threat to life in the event of a fire?

A) An unlocked front door in a building.
B) A locked basement door in a building.
C) A car in the driveway of a building.
D) A building with a missing fire escape.

7. A fire department instructor is explaining the hazards of operating on a frozen lake to a newly-assigned firefighter. Which of the following is an action that a firefighter should not take in this situation?

A) Put on a personal flotation device.
B) Bring heavy equipment onto the lake.
C) Prohibit civilians from going out onto the lake.
D) Engage firefighter safety line prior to operating on ice.

6. After firefighters are sure that a fire has been extinguished, and that there is no hazard in the building, they begin a salvage operation. Salvage involves moving and covering furniture and other properties, covering broken windows and holes in the building with plastic, and redirecting and cleaning up water to minimize damage. After extinguishing a fire in a high-rise apartment building, firefighters begin salvage operations. Which of the following pieces of property is in the most danger of being damaged?

A) A leather couch that has been burned on one side.
B) A large screen television with a broken screen.
C) An antique painting hanging under a leaking ceiling.
D) A pillow laying [sic] on the floor in a puddle of water.


5. Firefighters have responded to an apartment for an emergency water leak and are now standing in front of the door to the apartment. Which one of the following actions should the firefighters take first to gain entry into the apartment?

A) Knock loudly on the door and then try the doorknob.
B) Cut a hole in the door with a portable saw.
C) Strike one of the door hinges with the back of an axe.
D) Locate the fire escape and climb into the apartment through a window.

4. A fire department instructor is explaining to a newly-assigned firefighter the hazards of electrical wires that have fallen in the street. Which one of the following is an action that a firefighter should NOT take?

A) Keep people away from the fallen wires.
B) Use caution when working near energized wires.
C) Handle highly-energized wires while standing in a puddle of water.
D) Notify the utility company and tell them to respond to the emergency.

3. Firefighters must stop the flow of traffic in the safest possible manner when operating at the scene of fires or other emergencies located on highways. Firefighters have been assigned to stop traffic at night while operating at the scene of a car fire located on a highway. Which one of the firefighters is the most likely to attract attention of motorists in the safest manner?

A) Firefighter Reilly, who is waving her hands back and forth.
B) Firefighter Chang, who is jumping up and down.
C) Firefighter Ali, who is yelling as loud as she can.
D) Firefighter Diaz, who is waving his flashlight in a back and forth motion.

2. Firefighters are sometimes expected to administer aid to victims who are bleeding. To control bleeding, firefighters must perform the following actions in the order given.

i. Apply direct pressure to the wound by placing a sterile dressing against the wound and applying firm pressure.
ii. If #1 is unsuccessful, elevate the bleeding part of the body above the level of the victim’s heart.
iii. If #1 and #2 are unsuccessful, find the nearest artery by the wound and press the artery against the underlying bone.
iv. If #1, #2, and #3 are unsuccessful, use a tourniquet, which should be placed between the heart and the wound. Note: Tourniquets should only be used for severe, life threatening bleeding that cannot be controlled by other means.

Firefighter Jacobs has just come upon a young woman who has just started bleeding profusely from the lower part of her right arm. Which one of the following actions should Firefighter Jacobs take first to control the woman’s bleeding?

A) Hold the woman’s right arm above her head.
B) Apply a tourniquet just below the woman’s right elbow.
C) Press the artery that is closest to the wound against a bone.
D) Use a sterile dressing to apply direct pressure to the wound.

1. While operating at the scene of a car fire on a street, a firefighter was told to inform the officer of any dangerous conditions at the scene. Which one of the following conditions would be considered most dangerous to the firefighter operating at the scene of the car fire?

A) The car is leaking gasoline.
B) The car has four flat tires.
C) Vehicle traffic has come to a complete stop at the scene.
D) The car’s windshield is broken.

Answers: 10-D, 9-C, 8-D, 7-B, 6-C, 5-A, 4-C, 3-D, 2-D, 1-A