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Career Advice

How to become a firefighter

How to become a firefighter… Well you’re officially braver than us at TheEmployable. Firefighting can be a physically demanding and emotionally challenging profession. It should be no surprise therefore when we tell you that to make it your career will be difficult. Difficult but not impossible and with our advice, definitely achievable. So without further ado…

Firefighter job



There are no specific formal qualifications needed to become a Firefighter. There is however great emphasis placed on personal qualities and attributes. Furthermore, candidates are expected to pass a number of written and aptitude tests. Having qualifications such as Biology or P.E. from school will definitely not hurt your chances.



It is highly unlikely that anybody applying for a position in the fire service will have actual firefighting experience, so don’t be too disheartened when you see this column. They are looking here for what was mentioned previously – personal qualities. Situations in which you have worked as part of a group or community discussing safety issues would be ideal, as would evidence of an ability to make decisions in stressful situations.


Type of person

A resilient, rational and calm persona is critical for firefighters. Beyond the most obvious task of putting out fires, firefighters are also frequent responders to road traffic collisions where they may be witness to scenes of extreme distress. For this reason, applicants should be emotive; willing to show sensitivity and compassion where it is required.

You will also want to be in good shape physically. The exams for firefighters are numerous, and just some of them include dead lifting a weight, climbing and descending ladders with weights with confidence, navigating darkened tunnels with heavy equipment in a certain time, as well as dragging a 55 kg casualty backwards around a course.

Finally, somebody adept at problem-solving under pressure. I know we’ve repeated it to death at this point, but the simple fact is that firefighters have to judge a situation within a few seconds and make a decision that could potentially save or lose peoples’ lives.


Skills to become a firefighter

Firefighters work as part of a team constantly, both with each other and as part of the community. To reinforce this, given that children are often brought to fire stations for education, there is a no swearing policy. During intense physical training, if a member swears he or she incurs 10 press ups for every member of their team – except the member who actually swore. In this sense, it creates a bond from which all members have to trust each other.

The firefighter’s first priority is a preventative one and as such, you will be expected to educate the community by visiting schools, community centres and people in their own homes. This includes explaining the importance of having a fire escape plan for your home, checking if your smoke detector works and the potential repercussions.

You will also be expected to prove a determination to constantly be improving yourself. Firefighters have to attend frequent lectures, training exercises and courses which can be outside of their actual hours, all the while maintaining a strong physical condition.

How to become a firefighter

The first thing to do before making the decision to apply to the fire service should be to visit the UK firefighters recruitment website which lists the various medical examinations that you have to pass in order to even be considered. If from there, you find that you’re eligible then look out for one of the fire service’s recruitment information nights. Contact your local station to find out when the next session is. In the meantime, keep exercising and see if you can attend any first aid courses in the locality.

Ethan Loughrey

Looking for a job, but not too sure what career path to follow? Check out TheEmployable “How to Become” career directory


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