Will I be expected to have a driving licence?

Ideally yes, although not essential at the point of application. You should be aware however that part of a firefighter’s role is emergency response driving so there is an expectation that you will obtain a driving licence and eventually become an emergency response driver. You will be given full support and training to enable this.

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.

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.

Can you be a firefighter with eyesight issues, colour blindness or previous eye surgery?

Eyesight standards for firefighters are as follows and it is to the standard for LGV (Group 2) driver requirements and to National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) standards:

  • The minimum uncorrected vision for trainees should be 6/18 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worse eye
  • corrected visual acuity should be 6/7.5 in the better eye and a minimum of 6/12 in the worse eye • an upper hypermetropic limit of +3.00
  • ability to read N12 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 25 and over)
  • ability to read N6 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants under 25 years of age)
  • no history of night blindness or any ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in future failure of the visual standards for firefighters.

You must also pass a test to see if you are colour-blind.

Laser Eye Surgery Standards

If you have had eye laser surgery, you must wait 6-12 months before applying to allow for stabilisation. If you have undergone laser eye surgery, a report should be requested from the treating ophthalmologist to include the following details:

  • Confirmation that the eye has returned to normal and that there is no significant loss of corneal transparency over the pupil area
  • confirmation that there is no keratectasia
  • details of their pre-operative refractive error and any complications that may have occurred during or following the procedure with confirmation that the post-operative corneal thickness does not put them at increased risk from indirect trauma or from rubbing the eyes
  • confirmation that they do not have significant sensitivity to scattered light and that they retain good low-light performance.
Can I have a beard?

Unfortunately, firefighters cannot have a beard due to the need to be able to get a face seal when wearing breathing apparatus. This is for health and safety reasons.

Is there an age limit?
Applicants need to be 18 to apply, there is no upper age limit.
I am a foreign national can I apply?
All applicants must be eligible to live and work in the UK with no restrictions.
How fit do I need to be to join the fire service?

Firefighters need to have a good level of strength and cardiovascular fitness to be able to carry out their job. All our practical selection tests can be on our website within the firefighter selection process, this will enable you to be able to see what is required and work to improve your strength and cardiovascular fitness. A fitness test is carried as part of your medical to determine your aerobic fitness meets our standards of 42 V02 max, the test that we use to test this is the Chester Treadmill test.

What is the Chester Treadmill Test?
The treadmill will be set at 6.2km/h (3.8mph) throughout the test. The test will begin with 0% gradient for 2 minutes. The gradient will then be increased by 3% every 2 minutes. The test takes 12 minutes to complete.
How long does the application process take?
It can take up to 12 weeks from you initially registering online to being sent the first tests. From this point it takes around 9 - 12 months to complete the process and be placed on a course.
How many firefighter training courses per year are there?

We operate a continuous rolling recruitment programme, running four (4) trainee firefighter courses a year. Our aim is to recruit around 80 new firefighters annually to serve our communities.

What does initial firefighter training involve?
An initial trainee firefighters course lasts 12 weeks, you will be paid throughout this training. During this time, you will be working Monday to Friday at a variety of locations across the West Midlands. Following the successful completion of these 12 weeks you will be assigned a station and watch who will support you in the rest of your training. This will involve assessments in a variety of subjects and can take up to 3 years.
What shift patterns do firefighters work?
Most of our operational firefighters work a standard shift pattern from 08:00 until 18:00 on a 'tour' of two days, two nights then four days off. Each crew typically has 4 watches, which are identified by different colours - Red, Green, Blue and White. Each core watch follows the same pattern of two days, two nights then four days off, but the starting days are staggered for each watch, so we have cover 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For example, Red Watch might start their tour on Monday, Green Watch would start on Wednesday and so on. We also have 'lates' crews that work at some of our stations, and they work 4 days on and 4 days off, working 10:00-22:00 each working day. The 'lates' watch colours are Orange and Purple.
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 too much inconvenience in terms of travel, etc, but we must take into account where we need to fill vacancies.
Why are you restricting firefighter applications to people who live in the West Midlands?
We seek to represent the communities we serve in the makeup of our organisation, and by employing people from our communities we enhance our knowledge of our local communities. We also contribute to the economic growth of our communities by providing local jobs for local people.
Can I join the fire service if I’m a reservist in the Royal Navy Reserve, the Royal Marine Reserve, the Army Reserve and the Royal Air Force Reserve?

Yes, absolutely. We are a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant and have policies in place to support those who are reservists or ex-serving personnel working for us. We welcome applications from serving personnel or those who have served previously.

We recognise the value serving personnel, both regular and reserve, veterans, military families and cadet forces contribute to our organisation and the country. Therefore, we will endeavour to uphold the key principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, which are:

  • no member of the Armed Forces Community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen
  • in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate especially for the injured or bereaved You can see our full covenant pledge on the gov.uk website.
If I'm not successful in applying to be a firefighter, when can I apply again?

If you are unsuccessful in an application to be a firefighter with us, you can apply again in 12 months from your notification from us that you were not successful. Due to the application process requiring a national insurance number, which you would have already entered on your previous application, the system may show an error stating the NI number has already been used. If you experience this difficulty, please email our recruitment team at [email protected] with your details and this can be reset for you.

What if my national insurance number has already been used to apply?

When trying to apply to be a firefighter for us, you need to enter a national insurance number. If you've applied before, you may get an error saying your national insurance number has already been used and won't allow you to continue. Our teams can unlock this for you, provided the appropriate time has passed since your previous application. Please email your details and the issue you're experiencing to, [email protected] and they can do this for you.

What is positive action?

The Equality Act 2010 permits employers to take positive action measures to improve equality for people who share a protected characteristic. Section 158 of the Act enables us to take proportionate action to reduce disadvantage or increase participation of a particular group who are underrepresented in the workforce.

We are committed to having a workforce that reflects the diversity of our communities to give us the widest spectrum of ideas, backgrounds, cultures and skills. Our Service is currently underrepresented of: - Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people - People with disabilities - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people - Women (in firefighting roles) Examples of the types of positive action activity we carry out include targeted advertising, ‘meet and greet’ sessions, recruitment programmes and female fitness sessions. Positive action does not include giving someone a job based upon their protected characteristic. This is unlawful.

Are you allowed to drink or smoke?
We have a policy which prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking in all our premises. ‘With Cause’ drug and alcohol testing is carried out when necessary.
Can I have a second job?
We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees cannot have a second job without first obtaining written approval from us.
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. A DBS is required to be completed before a contract will be issued. It is your responsibility to inform us if you receive any convictions during the process.

What is DBS?

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. A DBS check is a way for employers to check a potential employees criminal record. All applicants are required to undertake a standard DBS check prior to employment which will show all unspent convictions.


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