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West Midlands FAQs

Would somebody’s size affect their application?

No – this is a popular misconception, because there used to be restrictions on height, weight and chest expansion. Candidates are expected to pass strength and fitness tests as part of the recruitment process. The tests are at a level that’s achievable by men and women of all different sizes and builds.

Why are you restricting applications to people who live in your delivery area?

We seek to represent the communities we serve in the makeup of our organisation, by employing people from our communities we enhance our organisations knowledge of our local communities. We also contribute to the economic growth of our communities by providing local jobs for local people.

Isn’t being a firefighter dangerous?

We adopt an assertive, safe and effective approach to how we manage incidents. Whilst there have been some fatalities to firefighters around the country when attending incidents, and they can never be hazard-free, we’ve developed a very positive approach to health and safety. As an organisation, we set extremely high standards and expectations in this area. Our firefighters work within a ‘competency framework,’ as well as effective personal protective equipment such as helmets and other fire kit. At incidents, safe systems of work are established with a high level of command and control. Plus, we constantly stress the importance of personal safety to our staff.

Away from incidents, our commitment to health safety and well-being is maintained across all areas of activity.

Would a criminal record prevent me from applying?

Not necessarily. If you have a conviction, then a panel will consider the nature of the conviction, its relevance to the role of a firefighter, the sentence, any pattern of offending and the length of time since the offence. You will be informed if a panel is to be convened and will have the opportunity to provide additional information in a supporting statement. An assessment will then be carried out to identify the risks to us as an organisation, our business, customers, clients and employees. The panel will decide if your application can proceed, and this is usually at an early stage in the recruitment process.

Can I choose which fire station to work at?

Unfortunately not. We’ll do our best to place all new employees at a station that doesn’t cause any inconvenience in terms of travel, etc, but we must take into account where we need to fill vacancies.

I wear glasses and have had corrective eye surgery. Can I apply?

Yes, but all applicants have to provide an optician’s report. The eyesight standards we provide to opticians are as follows:

Corrected visual acuity should be ‘6/9’ binocularly and a minimum of ‘6/12’ in the weaker eye. The minimum uncorrected vision for recruits should be ‘6/8’ in the better eye and ‘6/24’ in the weaker eye.

An upper ‘hypermetric’ limit of +3.00. Ability to read ‘N12’ at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (for applicants aged 25 and over).

Ability to read ‘N6’ at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (for applicants aged under 25).

No history of night blindness or any ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in failure of the visual standards for firefighters.

Colour Vision

An ‘Ishihara’ test should be used and include all plates, not just the numbers, and it must be performed under suitable lighting conditions (‘Standard Illuminant C’).

For those who fail the ‘Ishihara Plates’ the ‘Farnsworth D15’ test is recommended. The ‘Nagel Anomaloscope’ test (and City University computer based ‘MCV’ test) may also be required, as they are the only techniques that can distinguish between ‘Protanomalous’ and ‘Deuteranomalous’ individuals.

The optician will also be asked whether you have undergone any significant surgery to either eye, including implants or radical ‘Keratotomy’. Please note that laser eye treatment is considered on an individual basis.

The report will be forwarded to our Occupational Health Department for a decision as to your suitability for the role of a firefighter.

Can I have a second job?

We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees can’t have a second job without first obtaining written approval from us.

What are different coloured ‘watches’?

Operational staff at each station are split into six shifts known as ‘watches’ – Red, Green, Blue, White, Orange and Purple. It’s so we can provide a continual service, 24 hours a day.

What days and shifts will I work?

West Midllands Fire Service operates a two shift system:

The core shift
The core shift consists of two day shifts (8am-6pm) and two night shifts (6pm-8am) operating on a continuous four on four off rotation.
This shift pattern covers 24hrs a day 365 days a year and are called Red Watch, White Watch, Blue Watch and Green Watch.


The lates shift
The lates shift consists of four day shifts (10am-10pm) operating on a continuous four on four off rotation.
This shift pattern covers 12hrs a day 365 days a year and are called Orange Watch and Purple Watch.

You will work just one of these shift patterns on a continuous four on four off rotation.

Are you allowed to drink or smoke?

We have a policy which prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking in all of our premises.