Application, Testing and Interview tips for Fire Control Operators

Application, Testing and Interview tips for Fire Control Operators

In this article, former Kent Fire and Rescue Service Fire Officer and recruitment expert Richard McMunn, will provide tips and advice for those people applying to become Fire Control Operators.

Become a Fire Control Operator


The application process has become more in depth over recent years and HR departments seem to favour the Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQA’s) approach. Within the application form they will ask for examples on how you would cover each of these PQA’s that are within the application.

For example:

Describe how you would see yourself as a team ‘player’ and give an example of an occasion you have had to do this.

The best way to complete this is by describing an event that has involved you within that role. Write it as though the person you are trying informing has no idea on the subject, and by reading it would understand the process you are explaining. I find that writing in a ‘diary’ context helps, as in a step-by-step direction. The more content you can put the better, although try not to ‘waffle’ with useless information.

Applications with minimal input will be disregarded. Make sure you do some homework, go on the Organisation’s website and find out as much information on it as you can. This will give you some understanding of the day to day running and expectations of the Organisation.


Audio Typing: This consists of listening to passages read out by an individual or from a sound recording played aloud into the room. The aim of this test is to access typing speed, spelling and accuracy and listening skills and your interpretation of what is being said. The content you provide will be examined, although you may not have finished the passage, as long as the example is accurate and spelling is good this will be considered.

Word Comprehension: is the ability to read text, process it and understand its meaning. This is tested by reading a passage that will then give a choice of the correct spelling and meaning of the word.

For example: The presence of the man in the room. Could also be written: The presents of the man in the room. Both sound the same but the written context is totally different.

Presence = the fact or condition of being present within your immediate surroundings or vicinity.

Presents = a gift or showing and giving, or an introduction.

Number Recall: This again, is either verbally given from a representative or a recording played into the room. A sequence of numbers is given, initially a lower set of numbers is given, i.e. 2928. Then as the test progresses the length of sequence will increase i.e. 4935742, and so on. These are written down on your test paper. This test is again used for listening and accuracy skills. Numbers are used to a high percentage of the working day within the role of an Operator.


If you are accepted for interview, following the tests, then you will be given a date and time. Arrive at least ten minutes prior to your interview. This will show you are prompt and good at time keeping. Essential for an Operator enabling a concise and accurate handover before starting each shift.

Make sure you present your self in a smart manner. A uniform is provided, at the beginning of your role as an Operator, this is always to be worn to an exact standard.

The interviews are held in front of a panel. This will, usually, consist of the Officer in charge of the Control Room, and HR Representative, the Training Officer and at least one other Watch Manager. They will have a list of PQA’s. They will ask you to give examples of how you have used these skills. They will also ask why you think you would be suitable for this type of role. You can ask for the question’s to be repeated whilst you think on how you can answer them. Even ask if they can give you a few seconds to think on how to give your best answer. As I stated before, explain your reply as though these people have no idea how your previous experiences have come about. They could also give you a scenario and then ask how you would deal with this.

Remember that a great deal of the work within a Control is Data Protected so expect to be asked a question along those lines also.

Once interview is completed, and if you are successful, you will then proceed to the Medical stage. A date and time will be given for this and attend, as before, promptly and in a smart manner.

Good Luck!