Joining the various UK Fire and Rescue Services can take several years of commitment. Many of the fire fighters currently a part of the service department have spent months and even years applying to be accepted based on the eligibility requirements. Before you can even fill out the application form it is best to be prepared as a candidate. Additionally, the Fire and Rescue brigades only tend to hold recruitment sessions every few years.
The National Point of Entry committee will select from applications the best qualified candidates, which means anyone interested in becoming a fire fighter needs to qualify against the National Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQAs). They are also behavioural indicators.
The Assessment Development Centre (ADC) assesses recruits through training centres and interviews. Medical tests such as eye tests and physical fitness tests are also a part of the process. Through the PQAs, medical and physical tests, a written test, psychological interview, and standard interview the ADC and UK Fire and Rescue Service will determine if a candidate passes the eligibility, criteria, and all tests to be hired.
A candidate must be at least 18 years old to begin fire fighter training or reach 18 years of age before the interview process is complete. Training is going to last between 12 and 18 weeks depending on location. Northern Ireland requires 18 weeks, where most of the UK is up to 16 weeks. Training is for induction into the department in which fire training and skills training is going to determine the qualifications for the fire fighter ranking given and qualifications received.
Fitness standards state that a
fire fighter needs to be of “a level of aerobic fitness and strength” that allows the candidate to take on the duties required. This means that a person needs to meet the job demands in which intense physical activity is required by periods of rest. There are no specifics when it comes to fitness standards in terms of weight, height, and other fitness numbers. The physical test will determine eligibility based on whether the candidate can complete the test, any timed tests and distance tests.
The physical test that is required includes six stages:
- Casualty Evacuation
- Ladder Climb
- Ladder Lift/Lower Simulation
- Equipment Assembly
- Enclosed Spaces
- Equipment Carry
- Eye Exam: an eye exam is necessary in order to become a part of the fire department. Eyesight requirements are part of the medical criteria for fire fighters. Corrected vision needs to provide distance acuity of 6/9 with both eyes and 6/12 for the weaker eye. Near vision requirements need to be N12 at 30 cm, with both eyes open and no correction. The UK Fire and Rescue Service have a specific colour blindness level that is allowed based on each borough, city or metropolitan area. A severe deficiency in colour blindness can be dangerous.
- Blood Pressure: any blood pressure that is above 140/85 will require further examination.
- Hearing Test: a test will be required; especially, if there is a suspected issue.
- Respiratory Function: a candidate needs to handle proper intake of oxygen, thus a test of sufficient oxygen and respiratory function is conducted during the medical physical exam.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing: these tests occur during the interview phase and throughout the life of a fire fighter.
A couple of things are looked for during the psychological test including the ability to handle the pressure, the possible dangers, and the ability to work well with the team.
Nationality and Residency
Residency is a requirement to apply as a UK Fire and Rescue Service member. The department is an equal opportunity employer so nationality is not a concern as long as residency can be proven.
No one will be accepted with criminal convictions. It is a standard of safety, which is also the reason for psychological testing as it could create a danger for the team and others.
Tattoos and Piercings
Tattoos are okay as an individual will generally cover them up with the equipment and gear.
Jewellery, any rings, bracelets, watches, etc. cannot be worn during operational duty as a matter of health and safety.
Hair including long hair and facial hair is considered an interruption to hearing or mask tightness, thus it is prohibited.