The application and assessment process for the role of a wholetime firefighter is already a challenge, but it can get even more confusing for applicants when every FRS seems to do things a bit differently!
We’ve outlined some of the most recent changes in the process and the newest selection methods being used to give you an idea of what to expect in Firefighter recruitment.
The application form has now almost exclusively moved to an online version, but there are still differences from FRS to FRS.
In many cases the more traditional format is being used:
- Personal details
- Education and Training
- Employment History
- FRS Employment History (if you’ve been a Firefighter, or applied previously)
- Support Requirements/Disability Declaration
- References (One must be from your current employer, if you have one)
- Declaration of any offences
- Cambridgeshire FRS Core Values
- Personal Statement – How you meet the PQAs
However a proportion of FRSs have introduced a shorter application, consisting of screening questions and a Realistic Job Preview (RJP) – this is a series of multiple choice questions designed to check your attitude to the job and situations you might find yourself in as a firefighter.
Doing a RJP can also allow you to ‘opt out ‘if you realise the role may not be for you, before you are too far along in the process.
Following this applicants move straight on to an online ability testing stage.
Be aware that for some FRSs it’s a prerequisite that you’e attended a taster or ‘have a go’ session at your local station!
The Psychometric Tests
Again, the majority of the psychometric ability testing is now taking place online rather than at an assessment centre.
Candidates who successfully submit their application form will be sent an online link to complete the tests.
Generally the testing will start with a Behavioural Styles questionnaire and Situational Judgement Test.
Following this applicants will be asked to complete Verbal and Numerical reasoning tests, which are timed. More and more FRSs are also adding a mechanical reasoning test.
The Physical Tests
- Enclosed Space Test
- Ladder Climb
- Casualty Evacuation
- Ladder Lift
- Ladder Extension
- Equipment Carry
- Equipment Assembly
Endurance type tests such as the Fire-ground Fitness Test are gaining in popularity also.
There is also a rise in the number of FRSs using swimming tests as part of the assessment, as well as phobia tests and group-based physical challenges such as a multi-person ladder manoeuvre.
The Assessment Centre
You may also be asked to redo the psychometric tests under classroom conditions if you initially completed them online.
Depending on the FRS the day at the Assessment centre can vary greatly – some make cuts during the day and keep the most promising candidates on for interview, some ask candidates to return for an interview on another date.
Many FRSs incorporate the physical and fitness tests into the Assessment Centre day too, so it can end up being a very full-on experience!
The Fitness and Medical Tests
Medical tests will generally look at your weight, lung function and blood pressure. You’ll also have to undergo hearing, eyesight and urine tests. For some FRSs there will also be a grip test.
Some FRSs will ask a candidate to submit a medical questionnaire earlier on in the process.
The Fitness test is usually still some form of the bleep test or Chester Treadmill/step test. Some of the test take place on an exercise bike instead of a treadmill.
However the main aim of the fitness test is to measure your cardiovascular fitness and lung capacity.
Certain FRSs are also introducing a gym-based fitness assessment. This isn’t a pass/fail assessment, but is in place to give the recruitment team a better idea of your overall fitness and strength.
There are the usual pre employment checks and following up of references, but in some application processes there are also a few extra hurdles.
Addresses will be verified to make sure you actually live at the address you claim to, as some FRSs stipulate that you must live within a certain radius of your assigned station.
You may also have to undergo a second fitness test, to ensure that you’ve maintained the required level of fitness since your last test.
Pre-employment tasks may be given to you, this includes e-learning that has to be completed to an approved standard before training can begin.
Remember you will also have to pass your pre-employment training to be officially offered the position too, and be required to pass the IFE level 2 Firefighter Tests!