Thinking of joining the UK Fire Service in 2022 as a firefighter?
It’s been a challenging year for the Fire Service. Aside from the pandemic, and significant cuts to budgets and staffing levels, the Fire Service has been under a lot of pressure to transform in response to socially responsible movements, which has had a knock-on effect on the recruitment process and the qualities the Service are looking for when selecting candidates.
So what are some of the attributes the Fire Service are looking for in firefighters joining the UK Fire Service in 2022?
Let’s dive in.
The role of the modern firefighter is constantly evolving in response to external pressures and events, and to give yourself the best chance of being selected in an increasingly competitive recruitment process, you have to show that you can adapt to new situations quickly, problem solve on the spot, and show initiative.
These attributes have always been important to the role. However, with the onset of the pandemic (particularly in the early days of lockdown in 2020 when cases were at their peak) the Fire Service was called upon to work with other emergency services in a range of new duties, which put key skills like confidence, resilience and situational awareness to the test.
Commitment to Diversity
The past few years have seen significant changes in all industries and services with regard to diversity and inclusion, and this has again been exacerbated by events during the pandemic. The UK Fire Service has been moving towards a more diverse force for some time, and now in 2022 is more inclusive than it has ever been.
As well as celebrating diversity through events like Pride and Black History Month, the Fire Service has made huge progress with inclusivity in the application and recruitment process. It’s now becoming standard for an FRS to hold dedicated recruitment events to cater to diverse groups, for example LGBTQ+ only sessions, or BAME taster/have a go days.
As an applicant, it goes without saying that you need to have a positive attitude to diversity and inclusion. However, you also need to be able to show that you understand WHY this matters, and recognise the benefits that a more diverse Fire and Rescue Service can bring to both the local community and to society at large.
As with many other public sectors, the UK Fire Service has had to increasingly shift to an ‘online’ mentality as a result of the pandemic and social restrictions. With there being reductions in the amount of face-to-face and community events during periods of restriction, a large amount of information and processes have had to be moved online.
From a recruitment perspective, this has meant an increase in online assessments and interviews, including virtual assessment days. Some FRSs have even held virtual taster sessions and Q&As for interested applicants.
It’s true that for the vast majority of FRSs the application form (and usually the online testing) was already completed online in recent years. However, recent applicants have had to be tech-savvy, or to learn quickly in order to keep up with the process. It’s something that has come naturally to younger applicants, but some older candidates looking for a career change have found this a challenge.
There’s also been a huge increase in the social media presence of the majority of Fire and Rescue services. For modern firefighters, interaction with their Service and community online via the social channels of their FRS (as well as making sure their own social media reflects a professional image worthy of a firefighter) is becoming increasingly important.
A Responsible Mindset
The UK Fire Service is also being affected by environmental pressures, and as such has had to take a more prominent stance on sustainability. Again, this is something that has been ongoing in recent years, but which has been brought into sharper focus by the effects of climate change, and the commitments made by businesses and institutions (in both the public and private sectors) towards carbon neutrality.
Firefighters and applicants need to show a positive attitude towards sustainability, and an awareness of the issues that have led to environmental and sustainable policies being introduced within the Fire Service.
Do you Fit the Bill of a Modern Firefighter?
We give this advice to all applicants who come to us for advice or use our products – being selected for a firefighter role isn’t necessarily about qualifications. A lot of emphasis is placed on character. This includes your attitude, your integrity and your values, and how closely these align with the core values of the FRS you’re applying to.