Becoming a firefighter is very popular. There are hundreds of applicants for each post. There are fewer jobs due to public sector budget cuts.
But it’s not all bad news. We’ll always need firefighters and there will always be jobs available. You just need to know where (and when) to look. It’s also crucial that you understand what you need to do before you apply.
Most of us have an idea of what a firefighter does. But behind that there is a lot more that most people don’t know about!
Of course the part that gets the most attention is the operational side. Putting out fires, evacuating buildings, rescuing people who are trapped or involved in road traffic collisions, standing by at large public events, and not forgetting turning up at halls of residence at 2am when someone has burnt the toast!
It is so much more than putting out fires, so where else do you see Firefighters?
At schools, educating young people in the dangers of fire; at community events, raising awareness about safety and offering preventative services such as free smoke alarm checks; at major incidents such as chemical spills, transport crashes, terrorist threats or natural disasters. Firefighters check commercial premises to ensure safety standards are being met, do risk and health & safety assessments, deliver information to vulnerable members of the community, investigate causes of fires…the list goes on.
In order to maintain skills and competencies across such a wide range of responsibilities a great deal of time is spent on drills, learning and training. There are also requirements to remain fit enough to meet the demands of the job and a fair amount of time spent on routine tasks such as testing and maintaining equipment.
What’s the different with whole-time and retained?
Whole-time Firefighters have full time contacts and work set hours. They generally work in urban areas or those with higher populations.
Retained firefighters are ‘paid volunteers’ who are on-call i.e. they usually have other employment or responsibilities but also make themselves available to the FRS for a certain number of hours a week in case they are needed. They tend to be based in rural areas with lower density of population, and need to live within 5 minutes from their nearest fire station.
First year as a Firefighter
Once you have got through the tough selection process you’ll get a start date to commence training. This will take 12-18 weeks and cover all the basics you need for the role, practical and theoretical. Once you have passed your initial training you will start on station as a firefighter on probation. This will last two years and you will need to keep records to demonstrate that you have met all the requirements detailed in your role map.
Next Page: Why be a Firefighter?
Plenty of people want to join the Fire Service. But what is it like once you are in? We asked around to get some behind the scenes insights, and found some surprising answers…