What are transferable skills and why do you need them? What does it mean to be employable today and in the future?...
- Protect the public by providing emergency services in dangerous situations
- Can be physically and emotionally demanding, so you'll need to be resilience and fitness
- Opportunities for full and part time work, and for progression into senior roles with experience and training
As a firefighter your work will be a mix of fire station duties, fire fighting and giving advice and talks on fire prevention.
Every day will be different, but could be:
- Controlling and putting out fires
- Dealing with bomb alerts and floods
- Rescuing people and animals from burning buildings and accident sites
- Managing chemical or hazardous substance spills
- Giving presentations to schools and other community groups,
- Inspecting buildings to make sure that they meet fire safety regulations
- Dealing confidently with members of the public
At the fire station, you'll be inspecting and maintaining equipment, carrying out practice drills and taking part in training.
You can work full-time or as a part-time (retained) firefighter. If you're full-time, you'll work a 42 hour week which includes shifts to cover a 24 hour service. A typical shift pattern is 2 day shifts, 2 night shifts and 4 days off-duty.
As a retained firefighter, you'll have no formal hours, but agree to make yourself available in emergency situations.
This job can be stressful and demanding, both physically and emotionally. You will often work in very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations, for example at heights, around toxic chemicals or in enclosed spaces.
This role would be ideal for someone with stamina, and a high level of physical fitness, the ability to remain calm in dangerous situations, excellent teamwork skills, the ability to operate a range of tools and equipment, to take control in difficult or confusing situations, and the ability to write accurate reports.
You must be 18, though you can apply slightly earlier as long as you're 18 by the time you get the job, pass a fitness test, pass a medical check, pass enhanced background checks and have a full UK or EU driving licence, held for at least 12 months.
Some fire services may only accept applications from people living in the local and surrounding areas. Most fire services take on new recruits once every 12 months, so you’ll need to find out when they are recruiting next.
You can apply directly to join the fire service. Each one sets its own entry requirements but many ask for GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications and you'll need to pass an online test to assess your judgement ability in a realistic work setting and number and reading tests. If you’re successful, you'll then do practical selection tests to find out whether you can do the physical tasks needed for the job and be interviewed.
You could prepare to apply for a job by doing a Level 2 Certificate in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community. This course is usually run by local fire services and is aimed at people who have some responsibility for fire safety, like housing wardens and fire prevention officers. You could also take a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Public Services before applying to the fire service, although this is not essential.
Volunteering or working in a support role, for example emergency call handling or fire safety, will give you an idea of what the job is like, as well as access to internal vacancies.
Alternatively, you may be able to start training on an operational firefighter advanced apprenticeship. You'll need to be employed by a fire service to do this.
You can ask your local fire and rescue service for a firefighter careers and recruitment pack.
All fire services run the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) which allows you to plan and track your career development. You could work your way up to crew manager, watch manager or station manager. If you're prepared to move between services, you could also become an area manager, a brigade manager or a chief fire officer. If you're involved in fire safety and prevention work, you can take professional qualifications leading to membership of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE). You could also get a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence for driving fire engines.