MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Agocs, Carol

Geographical Areas

Ontario, Canada


The focus of this research paper was to explore the possible barriers women may encounter when pursuing a career as an operational firefighter in Ontario. Primary research was used to analyze empirical data collected through an on-line survey while guided by literature on concepts related to human resources best practices. Secondary research on bona fide occupational requirements (BFORs) and physical abilities testing used for firefighter candidates was also explored to investigate the validity of candidate physical testing being used in Ontario. The research in this paper showed that fire services were inconsistent when using HR best practices while hiring firefighting candidates. The lack of consistency in using HR best practices for hiring causes barriers for women pursuing a career as an operational firefighter, as gender stereotyping and bias during the screening and selection process can have an impact on their candidacy for the position. Secondary research regarding physical abilities testing and BFORs demonstrated that Ontario fire services are using physical testing that may not be defensible as a BFOR if challenged by a Human Rights tribunal, due in part to the validity regarding the methodology used to establish the testing, against the three-part test for BFORs established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999.