Do you have what it takes to be a firefighter?
These guys do:
Our staff are ready to respond to any call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Crews are trained to respond to a whole range of challenging situations including:
- Road traffic collisions
- Animal rescues
- Water rescues and
- Incidents involving hazardous materials.
The role of protecting the community also starts before the 999 call.
Our prevention work within communities includes:
- Safe and well checks
- Educating children in schools
- Undertaking business premises checks
- Carrying out arson prevention work and
- Working with communities to provide advice on fire safety and prevention.
The role of a firefighter is varied and encompasses a lot more than you might think. As well as responding to emergencies, much of a firefighter’s time is taken up by duties that aim to prevent incidents, as well as ensuring training is up to date and complying with fire station duties.
As a firefighter you will be expected to be able to demonstrate a number of personal attributes which you will be required to adhere to in all aspects of your work. These include:
- Commitment to diversity
- Effective communication.
The work undertaken by firefighters can be broadly divided into four areas:
Incident prevention and community safety
While attending to emergencies is important, taking steps to ensure fires and other accidents don’t happen in the first place is just as crucial. Firefighters engage with the local community in order to provide advice on the steps needed to keep individuals safe. This is done by:
- Educating the community through delivering safety advice through visits to schools, community centres and domestic visits
- Keeping up to date with local area knowledge
- Advising people on planning on exit in the case of an emergency
- Delivering safe and well checks to members of the community; informing them of the risks to their health, safety and wellbeing
- Engaging with the diverse groups of people within local communities in order to foster good relations and understanding
- Work with some of the most vulnerable members of the community in order to ensure they are supported.
Responding to emergencies
Firefighters are expected to be able to respond immediately and safely to emergency calls. A call could come at any point, which means being prepared to drop what you’re doing and attend an incident.
As well as fires, there are a variety of different emergencies that you will be expected to attend, such as:
- Chemical spillages
- Providing casualty care and extraction at road traffic accidents
- Rescuing individuals trapped in buildings and lifts.
Once at the site of the emergency firefighters work to minimise the distress and suffering of anyone involved and provide first aid where necessary.
Training and development
Maintaining training levels is crucial and is an ongoing obligation for all firefighters. Training is delivered in both theoretical and practical exercises in order to keep competency levels up to date. On top of this, firefighters are required to take responsibility for developing their own skills and – crucially – ensuring fitness levels are maintained.
In order to keep equipment in good working order firefighters are required to maintain, clean and test equipment using established health and safety procedures. You will also be required to process and record information using our IT systems.
The following crewing systems are currently in use:
Peak Demand (PD) is a wholetime duty system that operates at Atherstone and Gaydon Fire Stations. It utilises a team of 12 staff to provide daytime crewing of a fire appliance. It provides an average working week of 42 hours, and after taking the full allocation of annual leave, staff work 151 day shifts per year. Each working shift is 12 hours duration between 07:00 hrs and 19:00 hrs.
Staff are allocated to one of two shift groups (Alpha and Bravo) with each shift working seven days in every fortnight. There is occasional variation within this working pattern because staff have local flexibility to cover crewing deficiencies across both shifts.
Day Crewing Plus
Day Crewing Plus (DCP) is a wholetime duty system that operates at Leamington, Stratford and Alcester Fire Stations. It utilises a team of 12 staff to provide 24 hour crewing of a fire appliance. Operating in accordance with the principles of self-rostering, individuals programme a baseline of 151 shifts per year to ensure that planned crewing levels are maintained.
A shift on DCP is defined as a 24 hour period, starting at 07:30 hrs and concluding at 07:30 hrs the following day. Each duty shift is split into periods of Positive Hours and On Call Hours. During Positive Hours, staff are rostered for immediate operational and other duties appropriate to their role. During On Call Hours, duty staff remain available to attend emergency incidents as and when required, and are therefore required to be on, or in close proximity to, the station or appliance. Accommodation is provided on the station for use during the On Call period. There is an additional uplift of 25% on salary, which is remuneration for the On Call part of the role.
Self Rostering (SR) is a wholetime duty system that operates at Leamington Fire Station. It utilises a team of 21 staff to provide 24 hour crewing of a fire appliance.
SR is team based flexible working with staff allocating their own shifts within an agreed rule set to ensure that planned crewing levels are maintained. It provides an average working week of 42 hours, and after taking the full allocation of annual leave, staff work 151 shifts per year, averaging 3.5 shifts per week, or between 14 and 16 shifts per month. Each working shift is 12 hours duration, with day (07:30 hrs start) and night (19:30 hrs start) shift allocation in equal proportion.
Peak Demand Plus
Peak Demand Plus (PD Plus) is a wholetime duty system that operates at Coleshill Fire Station. It utilises a team of 12 staff to provide 24 hour crewing of a fire appliance. Operating in accordance with the principles of self-rostering, individuals programme a baseline of 151 shifts per year to ensure that planned crewing levels are maintained.
A shift on PD Plus is defined as a 24 hour period, starting at 07:30 hrs and concluding at 07:30 hrs the following day. Each duty shift is split into periods of Positive Hours and On Call Hours. During Positive Hours, staff are rostered for immediate operational and other duties appropriate to their role. During On Call Hours, duty staff remain available from home to attend emergency incidents as and when required. Essentially, PD Plus works in a similar way to DCP, except that the On Call hours are at home, rather than on the station. When operating on the PD Plus duty system, individuals need to be residing within five minutes of the fire station when carrying out the On Call hours. There is an additional uplift of 23% on salary, which is remuneration for the On Call part of the role.
Flexible Crewing (FC) is a wholetime duty system that operates at Nuneaton and Rugby Fire Stations. It utilises a team of 21 staff to provide 24 hour crewing of a fire appliance. It provides an average working week of 42 hours, and after taking the full allocation of annual leave, staff work 151 shifts per year. Each working shift is 12 hours duration, being either a day shift (0730 hrs start) or night shift (1930 hrs start).
Staff are allocated to one of four shift groups (Red, White, Blue, Green) with each shift working a two days, two nights, four off pattern. Some variation occurs within this working pattern because staff have local flexibility to cover crewing deficiencies across all four shifts.
We operate a rigorous recruitment programme that takes place over several months.
Candidates are assessed on a range of attributes through both written and practical tests, thorough background checks and an interview stage. The process is designed to ensure that we recruit the best candidates.
Firstly we will ask you to provide us with your personal details and any other information we may need for monitoring purposes.
You will need a Full UK driving licence to apply.
Online pre-check list
In order to assess whether firefighting is the correct career for you we will ask you to complete an online checklist that assesses both your eligibility and the likelihood that you will enjoy working as a firefighter.
As has become standard practice with many recruitment programmes, we use online psychometric testing in order to gauge whether a candidate has the aptitudes we require. In our case we assess candidates on: numerical ability, verbal reasoning, problem-solving and risk assessment.
The tests are as follows:
Situational judgement test
The situational judgement test presents you with a number of hypothetical scenarios of the type you are likely to encounter as a firefighter and requires you to select the response, out of a number of possible answers, which you think would be the best course of action to take.
This is timed, multiple choice test which will assess your ability to process written information.
The numerical test is designed to assess your ability to make basic numerical calculations and is timed and multiple choice. The questions involve interpreting numerical data from tables and graphs.
Dependability and safety instrument
This test is designed to assess your ability to calculate the degree of risk involved in a situation. The risk assessment test is multiple choice but is not timed.
The assessments are administered by SHL. Take a test to familiarise yourself.
Declaration of unspent criminal convictions
At this stage we will require you to declare whether you have any unspent convictions. Having a criminal record will not necessarily prevent you from working for us. If you have a conviction the Service will undertake a risk assessment to consider the nature, relevance to the role of firefighter, the sentence, patterns of offending and the length of time since the offence.
We will also ask you to complete an occupational health questionnaire. The information will then be reviewed and a judgement will be taken as to whether there are health issues that may affect your ability to do the job.
Practical selection tests
In order to ensure that you are able to handle fire service equipment you will undertake a series of tests that will assess: your ability to work at heights, your manual dexterity, ability to combine your upper and lower body strength and your co-ordination.
During the interview you will be asked questions on your experience and skills. The answers you give will be used to determine your suitability for the role. The interview will also be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have about working for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.
If you are successful in all the previous stages, we will then make a conditional offer that is subject to several pre-employment checks. We will also ask you to complete an online DBS disclosure form. Once these checks are complete we will be in a position to confirm an offer of employment.
What is the minimum and maximum age for joining to become a firefighter?
The minimum age for joining the fire service is 18 years old which you must be at the start of the training course. There is no maximum age.
How tall do you need to be to become a firefighter?
There is no minimum or maximum height within the Fire and Rescue Service.
How long does the recruitment process take?
The recruitment process can take many months. It could take a year from application to actually commencing employment, depending on the timing of vacancies.
What salary can I expect to receive as a firefighter?
A trainee firefighter will earn a salary of £22,237 rising to £29,638.
I have a criminal record. Can I still apply and join as a firefighter?
Having a criminal record will not necessarily prevent you from becoming a firefighter. You are required to declare any convictions for offences that are not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This includes any offences dealt with by a court of law, HM Services disciplinary procedures and any driving offences.
Before an offer of employment is made a disclosure document from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) may be obtained. If, at any stage, a conviction is highlighted that you have not declared, your application will be withdrawn from the recruitment process.
I have a disability. Can I still become a firefighter?
Yes. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 has now been amended and the role of firefighter is no longer exempt from the act. This means that anyone who considers themselves to have a disability can apply to join the fire service.
A disability is defined by the act as: anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
You will be asked if you have a disability as part of the recruitment process and to give details of the type of adjustments you may require in order to take part in the selection process and to fulfill the role of a firefighter, should you be successful. Each case will be considered on an individual basis and if reasonable adjustments can be made to enable you to take part in the selection process and to fulfill the role of a firefighter, then your application will proceed.
I am dyslexic. will I be able to cope with the written tests?
Dyslexia is classed as a disability and you will be asked if you have a disability as part of the recruitment process. When you get to the timed written tests you will be asked if you suffer with dyslexia and you should answer “yes”. You will then be asked to contact us directly so we can discuss any reasonable adjustments, such as additional time to undertake the assessments. You will be required to provide evidence of your dyslexia.
Why is there a requirement to swim?
Water rescue is a specialist role which you may be asked to perform. The essential criteria require you to be able to swim and be confident in water.
How fit do you have to be to become a firefighter?
You will need to be reasonably fit and maintain your fitness levels throughout your career as a firefighter. You will be required to undertake a fitness test to determine your aerobic capacity is at least a VO2 max level of 42. You are also required to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
I have a medical condition which I think may exclude me. How do I find out?
There are several medical conditions that will exclude you from joining as a firefighter. We suggest that if you have any condition you are unsure about, the easiest way to confirm whether or not this may exclude you is to contact us.
I wear glasses/ have had laser eye surgery. Can I apply?
Yes. Firefighters require good vision in both eyes and part of the recruitment process will include an eye test. Our Occupational Health Team will determine whether your vision meets the standards to become a firefighter.
Will being colour blind prevent me from becoming a firefighter?
You should have an appropriate level of colour perception. The recommended test procedure uses the Ishihara test as the initial screen, with two additional tests if the applicant fails the screening, to determine the severity and type of colour vision deficiency.
What qualifications do I need to become a firefighter?
You do not need to have any formal qualifications. However, the assessment process will be of a standard equivalent to GCSEs grade A* – C in Maths and English.
Can I choose which station to work at?
Candidates will be placed at stations where there are vacancies. Firefighters may also be required to transfer and work at other stations in the county.