Each stage of the on-call firefighter application process

Read about the stages in the application process that you need complete including practical tests, interview, medical and on-site training.

You need to complete 6 stages.

Follow all guidance notes provided with the application to prevent your application being rejected at stage 1.


You need employer consent

Download the employers consent form (PDF, 108KB) or find more information for employers.

Current vacancies

Recruitment is open

We would like to hear from anyone who's available during weekdays.

If selected, you'll be invited to the written and practical tests at Wattisham Training Centre (IP7 7RA); taking about 4 hours.

These are National Firefighter Ability tests.


Written tests

Working with Numbers test

  • You'll need to be able to make basic mathematical calculations, (e.g.) for interpreting gauges or calculating how much hose is needed at a fire.
  • 45 minute test.

Understanding Information test

  • You'll need to understand and interpret the type of written information that you may commonly come across as a firefighter.
  • 30 minute test.

Situational Awareness and Problem Solving test

  • You'll need to demonstrate your ability to ensure the safety of yourself and others and your ability to use information to solve problems.
  • 35 minute test.

Download a Firefighter Fitness Programme (PDF, 1MB). This'll help you with stage 3: Practical tests.

Practical tests

Physical tests

You'll be tested on your ability to:

  • work in a team
  • demonstrate to you and your assessor your reaction to the Fire and Rescue Service environment
  • understand, absorb and carry out instructions, plus other specific requirements

This is a physically demanding day designed to replicate the level of effort required of firefighters at the scene of incidents.

If you're suffering from temporary illness, injury or receiving antibiotics or other drugs you must not attend until you're well.

Ladder climb

This test will assess confidence working at heights

Applicants in full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) must wear a safety harness and practice a leg-lock at ground level.

The applicant then has to ascend two thirds of the way up the ladder (indicated by a mark on the ladder) then take a leg-lock.

They'll then are required to lean backwards and outstretch their arms to the sides, and then whilst looking over their shoulder they should say out loud what symbol is being shown by the assessor at ground.

Casualty evacuation

This test will assess upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

Applicants in full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) are required to drag a 55 kg dummy backwards around a 30m course, by a carrying handle fixed to the dummy.


  • can watch other applicant's performance
  • can be briefed one at a time or in small groups to allow them to continue onto the next test without delay
  • will be told what performance standard they need to achieve to pass the test

Ladder lift

This test will assess upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

Applicants wearing full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) are required to raise the bar of a ladder lift simulator to the required height with 15 kg of weight placed on the simulator cradle, which gives a total of 24 kg.


  • will be assisted if necessary by the Safety Officer
  • are directed to perform an initial lift with 5 kg of weight on the cradle to ensure they are prepared for the test

Enclosed space

This test will assess confidence, agility and stamina.

Applicants wearing full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) are required to put on a facemask and with un-obscured vision make their way through a crawl and walkway.

Once inside the crawl/walkway they have their vision obscured and return to the start.

Applicants who travel in the wrong direction or don't make any progress for 30 seconds will be stopped and directed so that they can continue, however, the stopwatch will continue running.

Equipment assembly

This test will assess manual dexterity.

Applicants will be given a demonstration of the test before having to assemble and disassemble a number of components to make an item of equipment.

The assembly will be timed and recorded and then the disassembly will be timed and recorded.

Wherever possible this test should be conducted prior to the equipment carry to give applicants a pause before their last most strenuous effort.

Applicants will be told what performance they need to achieve to pass the test.

Equipment carry

This test will assess upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.

Applicants are to carry items of equipment up and down a course between two cones placed 25m apart.

They'll be given brief demonstrations of correct lifting techniques and permitted to practice picking up the various items.

Applicants will be reminded of the sequence of events as the test progresses as they're not required to memorise them.

The interview takes around an hour and is based on the Personal Quality Attributes (Word, 31KB).

You'll be interviewed by a panel of senior operational firefighters.

We contact your employer for a reference and one other referee provided by in your application.

Held at our Occupational Health Centre in Ipswich.

We'll send you details of the date and location. 

A nurse will assess your suitability for the role and a Doctor will review the results.

You usually have the results on the same day.

Before you go on the initial recruit’s course you'll need to complete 6 weeks initial training.

This 10 day course will involve a large amount of outside activity in the Service Training Centre drill yard.

'Drill yard' is not the phrase for marching.

A fire service drill yard is used for:

  • completing drills that involve tuition on how to pitch various types of ladders as a crew (team)
  • the operation of a fire appliance (engine) pump (enabling you to deliver water to the hose)
  • the movement and positioning of hose to enable you to deliver the water onto the fire
  • the teaching of various types of equipment carried on a fire appliance

You'll expected at a very early stage of your training to understand where a range of equipment carried on all front line fire appliances is kept on the appliance.

Non-practical tuition


  • receive theoretical tuition in the classroom to reinforce your practical learning
  • be required to carry out self-study at home

During this course you'll develop your core firefighting skills which will be assessed throughout the 10 days.

The operational trainers are there to support you in developing these skills. Throughout the course you'll be given the opportunity to have one to-one discussions with them.

Any questions?

Contact our On-Call Firefighter Liaison Officer, Ken Ashby on 01473 260588 if you wish to discuss any of the steps in the recruitment process.