What Does It Take To Become A Firefighter?

Jon Southgate is a Station Commander, his role being that of Deputy District Commander of the South District of Suffolk’s Fire & Rescue Service

 suffolk fire and rescue

Hello again, by the time you read this, we’ll be in full swing with our first recruitment campaign for full-time Firefighter posts for around 10 years, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to explain just what it takes to do the role! 

As you can imagine, competition is intense and only the best applications get through the various sifts. Last time we ran the process, we received around 3,500 applications! Below I’ll include some tips on what to consider if you find yourself applying for a job. We’re seeking applicants with a Level 2 qualification in English and Maths, evidence of good fitness and teamworking skills, plus:-

  • Commitment to Diversity and Integrity
  • Openness to Change
  • Confidence and Resilience
  • Working with Others
  • Effective Communication
  • Commitment to Development
  • Problem Solving
  • Situational Awareness
  • Commitment to Excellence
  • Planning and Implementing

We ask evidence around those personal qualities and attributes in the form of 1/ What was the situation? 2/ What did you do? 3/ What was the outcome? and we need an example under each heading to demonstrate full understanding. 

Now, whilst we seek all of the above, a Firefighter also has to be pretty good at working under pressure, working at heights, working with casualties, working in water, working with animals, have an understanding of chemistry, an understanding of human physiology, be compassionate, follow orders, be good at working with other agencies, understand the elements of combustion…to name a few additional skills! 

All of the above are relevant skills for both full-time and part-time Firefighters; because everyone does the same job (although some stations / crews have specific specialisms) so evidence on an application really does have to stand out!

If you’re completing an application or putting a CV together, make sure you give yourself full credit for your achievements. Most of us will say “we did this or we did that”, but don’t be shy in claiming what you specifically have done; remember, a career may depend on what you write!

I’d strongly advise you to do some research on how best to complete an application, run it by someone before you submit it - but above all, read questions through twice so you fully understand what is being asked – we all know what we mean, but getting that message across is a real art!

The main aim of your application is to make an employer think “wow, we really must have this person in our organisation!!”