A career in the fire and rescue service requires a range of abilities including teamworking and communication skills, confidence, integrity, resilience, problem solving skills, focus, determination and composure. As a firefighter you have a responsibility to keep the community safe and promote knowledge of fire risk prevention. It is a demanding job, but also a rewarding one. What follows are the entry requirements and training necessary to become a firefighter in the UK.
A Firefighter’s Salary
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has established a national salary structure for all firefighters. The typical starting salary for a trainee firefighter is £21,157. However, this rises to £28,199 after all the required training is completed. There is a well structured career path set out for firefighters which means anybody with the determination to do so can advance through constant training and development.
Entry Requirements to Become a Firefighter
There are no formal educational requirements to become a firefighter, although good GCSEs in Maths, Science and English will strengthen your application. However, there are a number of vocationally-oriented degree courses offered by UK universities in the areas of fire safety and risk management, fire engineering and disaster management that are very useful qualifications to have when applying for a job as a firefighter.
You must be aged 18 years or older to apply to be a firefighter. You must also have good eye sight and hearing and will be asked to provide a full medical history to prove you are suitable for the fire and rescue service. During the application process you will have to successfully complete a series of National Firefighter Ability (NFA) tests and a National Firefighter Questionnaire (NFQ).
The NFA written tests cover the areas of working with numbers, understanding information and situational awareness and problem solving. Once these written tests are successfully completed you will have to complete a series of rigorous physical tests wearing a full firefighter uniform. These include coping in a confined space, ladder carrying and lifting, assembling and carrying equipment and casualty evacuation. You will usually also need to possess a full UK driving licence.
There are a number of websites similar to How2Become.com that offer additional help and provide information on how you can pass the fitness and assessment elements of your test.
The initial firefighter training period lasts approximately 12 to 16 weeks and is extremely intensive. Prior to application it is a good idea to get yourself in excellent physical shape. At a special training centre you will learn essential basic firefighting skills using crucial equipment like hoses, ladders and breathing apparatus. You will undergo continuous training and will be required to study hard. Assessors closely monitor your progress before moving you on to learning first aid and engaging in simulated fire scenarios.
After successfully completing your training you will be placed in a fire station for a probationary period in which you will be continuously assessed throughout a two year development programme. Following this development training you will be required to attend frequent lectures and training exercises to ensure you continue to develop and progress. There are excellent career advancement opportunities in the fire service, which has a clear and well structured career ladder.
With enough drive and commitment, you can have an incredible career as a firefighter and genuinely make a difference within your community. If you’re currently a student and would like to learn more about becoming a firefighter, the BBC offer a great breakdown of whatís required from you and even tell you about similar positions in the public sector.
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