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Becoming a firefighter

A firefighter testing a smoke alarmThe Firefighter Selection Process is the same for all applicants regardless of whether you want to be a retained or wholetime firefighter. Applicants are required to pass all stages of the process to be considered for a place on the Recruits Course.

There are five stages:-

  • Written Tests
  • Physical Tests
  • Interview
  • Medical and Fitness Assessment

When you apply to join us as a Firefighter, you will be asked to complete an application form.

The application form is in two parts. In the first part we ask you for your personal details. In the second part, we ask you to tell us about your skills and experience in relation to the Personal Qualities and Attributes described in the section Personal Qualities & Attributes. Applicants for the retained duty system won’t be asked to complete Part Two until after the written and physical tests.

In Part Two of the form, you will be asked to describe specific situations where you have demonstrated the particular behaviour or personal quality which is being assessed. You will need to write a short paragraph for each, describing what you did, why you did it and what happened as a result. Full details and further guidance is set out in the form.
If you are shortlisted for the next stage of the process, you will be invited to take a range of written and physical tests.

Written Tests

There are four written tests which are designed to assess your ability and aptitude for becoming a Firefighter.  The tests are:-

Working With Numbers

This test assesses your ability to understand and work with numerical information of the type you are likely to experience as a Firefighter. For example, you have to be able to complete basic numerical calculations to work out how much hose is needed at a fire and understand simple graphs, tables, dials and gauges. 

The test consists of a number of scenarios that present numerical information in a variety of formats. Each scenario is followed by a number of multiple choice questions. You must use the information given in the scenario to answer the questions that follow.

Situational Awareness and Problem Solving

This test is designed to look at your ability to ensure the safety of yourself and others and your ability to use information to solve problems. The test consists of a number of scenarios. For each scenario you are asked to choose which answer from four alternatives best describes what you would do in this situation.

Understanding Information

This test assesses your ability to read and understand written information of the type you are likely to experience as a Firefighter, for example fire safety information, training course materials, Service Orders and instructions etc.. The test consists of a number of scenarios that present information in a variety of formats such as memos, newsletters and training manual excerpts followed by a set of multiple choice questions. You must use the information given in the scenario to select the correct answer.

National Firefighter Questionnaire

This questionnaire is designed to provide information about your personal style and behaviour. Your responses to the questionnaire will be considered alongside other information from the selection process to help us decide if you are suited to becoming a Firefighter.The questionnaire consists of a number of statements together with a rating scale. You are asked to decide how strongly you agree or disagree with each statement.

Physical Tests

You will be required to undertake a range of physical tests to assess your fitness, strength and confidence in relation to the Firefighter role. The tests simulate some of the situations you may face as a Firefighter and include:-

  • A ladder climb
  • Casualty Evacuation
  • Ladder Lift
  • Equipment Carry
  • Equipment Assembly
  • Enclosed Space

During the physical tests you will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
During the Enclosed Space Test, you will also be wearing a BA facemask, which will be obscured, and a BA cylinder.

You should have a good general level of fitness before you undertake the physical tests. For guidance on fitness levels and the Firefit 12 week programme to prepare you for the tests, please read Guidance on Physical Training Preparation for the national Firefighter Selection Tests.


If you are successful in the Written and Physical Tests, you will be invited to attend an interview. The main purpose of the interview is to assess your general aptitude for the job and to gather examples of when and how you have used skills that are important for potential firefighters. There are five areas that will be assessed:-

  • Working with others – This is about working effectively with a variety of people whether they are in your team or in the community.
  • Commitment to Excellence – This is about adopting a conscientious and proactive approach to work and achieving and maintaining excellent standards.
  • Commitment to Development – This is about being committed t, and being able to develop yourself and others.
  • Commitment to Diversity and Integrity – This is about understanding and respecting other people’s difference and treating people fairly and ethically.
  • Communicating Effectively – This is about how effectively you verbally deliver information, make yourself understood and how you understand information.

If you are invited for interview, you will be given guidance on how to prepare and examples of the sort of questions that you might be asked.

Medical and Fitness Assessment

The final stage of the selection process is the Medical and Fitness Assessment. Candidates are required to attend an appointment with our Occupational Health Advisers who will test your hearing, eyesight, BMI, blood pressure, lung function, urine and immunisation status and undertake a full clinical assessment. You will also undertake a fitness assessment with our Physical Fitness Adviser who will check your aerobic capacity, grip strength and leg and back strength.

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