Recruitment and selection process

The following sections are designed to give you an indication of the recruitment process, what to expect and what will be required of you. The selection process spans a set period and is broken down into stages.

Application process

The first stage of the process is to apply online. Please click on this link which will take you to our online application page. If you have any questions please contact our recruitment team on 01480 444500.

The application process consists of:

  • Application form
  • Availability form (to show which hours you are available to be on-call)
  • Diversity monitoring form
  • Employer's consent form (if your employer will be releasing you to attend calls during work time)

Once your application has been submitted and accepted you will be sent an email advising you of the next steps including arranging a suitability meeting. During the recruitment process you will be asked to provide documentary evidence which proves your right to work in the UK. Details of what we can accept as proof of right to work in the UK are outlined here.

Written assessment stage:

Once your predicted availability has been approved you will be invited to attend the written assessments. In each of the assessments you will be presented with a number of scenarios each followed by a number of questions with multiple choice answers.

This stage involves completing a series of three timed tests which are detailed below and will take approximately 3 hours in total to complete and are usually held in an evening at Fire Service Headquarters in Huntingdon:

Working with Numbers test

This test assesses your ability to understand and work with numerical information of the type you are likely to experience as a wholetime firefighter. You will be presented with a series of scenarios, using information from graphs, tables, dials and gauges and asked questions relating to each of these. Firefighters need to be able to undertake addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as well as estimations of numerical data.

Understanding Information test

This test assesses your ability to read and understand written information of the type you are likely to experience as a wholetime firefighter. You will be presented with a series of scenarios and with information in a variety of formats (including fire safety information, memos, newsletters and training course manual extracts). You will be asked to answer several questions about each of these.

Situational Awareness and Problem Solving test

This test looks at your ability to ensure the safety of yourself and others as well as your ability to use information to solve problems. You will be presented with a series of scenarios similar to those you are likely to face in the role as a wholetime firefighter. You will be asked to choose the answer that most closely describes what you would do in each situation.

For more details please download our practice booklet.

Medical, eye and fitness assessment stage:

If you are successful at the written assessment stage you will be invited to attend a medical and fitness assessment with the Service doctor and Occupational Health team. This will take approximately 2 hours in total to complete. There are some medical conditions that may have an impact on your application. Download this document to find out more.


The purpose of the medical is to assess the general level of health, including weight, blood pressure and lung function to allow the Service doctor to make an informed medical decision as to whether a candidate is fit to undertake firefighting duties, allowing for any reasonable adjustments that may be made in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. Candidates will also have a hearing, eyesight and urine test.

A report may also be required from a hospital where you have received treatment or an independent specialist if the Service doctor requires it. Your consent is required to access these records and in order for you to complete the selection process it is necessary that this consent is given as requested.

Eye test

Prior to attending this appointment, candidates should visit the opticians for an eyesight test. The visual entry standards for firefighters are as detailed below:

  • The applicant MUST have a minimum uncorrected distance visual acuity of 6/18 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worse eye.

  • Have a corrected visual acuity of at least 6/9 binocular with a minimum of 6/12 in the worse eye and read N12 at 30cm with both eyes open. Please note applicants can use glasses of an appropriate specification on the fire ground should they be needed to obtain this standard of vision.

  • Have normal binocular visual field determined by confrontation techniques or formal testing methods.

Please click here to download the optician form.

Fitness test

During your medical assessment with Occupational Health you will be required to undertake the Chester treadmill walking test.

The Chester treadmill walking test was designed specifically for fire and rescue services by a professor of occupational health and fitness at the Centre for Exercise and Nutrition Science at Chester University.

The object of the test is to measure the Aerobic Capacity (Vo2 Max) of candidates. Aerobic fitness is the ability to carry out activities in all aspects of your social and occupational life without causing undue fatigue. This is a 12 minute progressive treadmill walking test to identify individuals who are capable (or not) of reaching the required fitness standard of 42 Vo2 Max. The test consists of walking at a specified and constant brisk pace to climb gradually increasing gradients from 0 to 15 degrees incline.

You are required to wear suitable clothing and trainers to complete the test. A document to assist you in preparation for this test can be found here.

Assessment stage:

If you are successful at the medical assessment and fitness test you will be invited to attend an assessment day which will include the physical test, interview and uniform fitting.

The assessment days are held at the Training Centre in Huntingdon and have been developed and specifically designed as single person tests.

The physical tests aim to assess your level of fitness, strength, stamina, co-ordination and manual dexterity.  The tests also look at your ability to work at heights and in darkened confined spaces as well as your level of confidence in simulated exercises. These tests are designed to reflect operational practice.

You will be provided with personal protective equipment to complete the tests.

A fitness information pack to assist you in preparation for these tests can be found here. The tests take approximately 2.5 hours in total to complete.

There are currently six tests which are detailed below:

Enclosed space

This test is designed to assess confidence, agility and stamina. It will also identify any claustrophobic tendencies.

Wearing a breathing apparatus set with the facemask obscured, you will be required to negotiate a crawl way. This test is timed.

Ladder climb

This test assesses your confidence at height and the ability to follow instructions.

You will be asked to ascend/climb a 13.5m Service ladder to a point two thirds of the way up and lock your leg on the ladder. You will then be asked to lean backwards, arms outstretched and whilst looking over your shoulder identify a symbol being shown by the assessor at ground level. You will have the opportunity to practice at ground level before performing the exercise.

Casualty evacuation

This test is designed to assess upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

This test requires you to drag a dummy (55kg) backwards around a 30m course with four cones. The dummy will have a carrying handle fixed to it. This test is timed.

Ladder lift

This test assesses your upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

The test is to raise the bar of a ladder lift simulator to the required height (190cm) with 15kg of weight placed on the simulator cradle. This gives a total lift load of approximately 30kg. You will be given the opportunity to practice an initial lift of 5kg on the cradle.

Ladder extension

This test is designed to assess upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

The test requires you to pull on the extending line of a fixed simulator 9m ladder. You will need to extend the ladder until it reaches its limit where the locking mechanism will be engaged at the top. You will then lower the ladder, keeping control at all times, until the locking mechanism engages at the bottom.

Equipment carry

This test is designed to assess aerobic fitness, stamina, upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

You will carry items of equipment up and down a course between two cones which are 25m apart. Demonstrations will be given of the correct lifting techniques. This test is timed.

Equipment assembly

This test assesses manual dexterity.

For this test you will have a demonstration by one of the test assessors of how to assemble and then disassemble a portable pump. You will then be required to carry out the same function with the use of pictures to help you through the exercise. This test is timed.

Dates to Remember

Written Tests

  • Tuesday 06 February 2018
  • Wednesday 07 March 2018

Assessment Days

  • Tuesday 16 January 2018
  • Friday 16 February 2018

Course Start Dates 2018

  • Tuesday 08 May 2018
  • October 2018 (Date TBC)