Firefighter application process

Step by step guide on how to apply, including the different tests and on-site training that you'll need to complete.

Anyone can apply. 

Equality, diversion and inclusion are part of our culture, and we welcome applications from all members of the community.


You'll need some basic levels of fitness, enthusiasm, willingness to work in a team environment and a desire to support your local community. You'll also need to answer yes to the following statements to continue with your application:

  • Will you be aged over 18 or over on 1 September 2020?
  • Are you eligible to work in the UK?
  • Do you hold a full and current driving licence that entitles you to drive in the UK without restrictions (with no more than 6 penalty points)?
  • Do you live in Suffolk or within 10 miles of the boundary of the county of Suffolk (as determined by the service's mapping system)
  • Are you able to attend the full assessment process as detailed on the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service web page?
  • Are you able to swim?

Find out more

Check if you are eligible to apply for a wholetime firefighter or on-call firefighter role.

Employer consent for on-call firefighter role

You'll need consent from your employer to be on-call during work.

Wholetime firefighter

The recruitment window for wholetime firefighters is now closed.

On-call firefighter

From 26 October to 27 November 2020.

See all dates to when you can apply for on-call firefighter. If you're ready, apply today.

There are two roles, wholetime firefighters and on-call firefighters.

The role of a firefighter is rewarding. They respond to fires, rescue and other emergencies plus work on prevention through education and fire safety messages.

Everyone at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service prides themselves on putting our community first. This includes:

  • carrying out home safety checks
  • visiting businesses to explain fire safety
  • making people of all ages and from different backgrounds aware of fire prevention and road safety where they live
  • attending open days and other events

Wholetime firefighter role

This is someone who has a full-time job and based at one station. Find out more about becoming a wholetime firefighter.

On-call firefighter role

This is someone who has a job elsewhere but will respond to emergency calls when required. They're attached to a particular station. 

You must live and/or work within eight minutes of a local station. Check if you're eligible to become an on-call firefighter.

What's it like to be a firefighter?

Hear about the experience of firefighters working for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

Apply to become a wholetime firefighter

We're not recruiting for whole firefighters until 2022.

Apply to become an on-call firefighter

  • On-call firefighter recruitment is year-round.
  • Check the dates for when you can apply to become an on-call firefighter.
  • On-call firefighters must live and/or work within eight minutes of their local station. Check if you're eligible to apply.

What you'll receive

On-call firefighters receive £5,000 per year (approximately) for attending calls, any training undertaken and for maintenance work carried out on the fire engine and at the station.

You also receive a retaining fee for the hours that you agree to provide cover for and training to handle emergencies and help your community understand the importance of fire safety.

Read how to apply to become an on-call firefighter.

Information for your employer

Many on-call firefighters are in full-time employment with employers who are keen to support their community. They are just like any other employee, except that they may be on standby for some of their working hours.

We know that releasing an employee to become an on-call firefighter is a big decision, and it could not happen without an employer's agreement. We rely on the partnerships we build with local employers and aim to ensure everyone is fully aware of the commitment prior to releasing a member of staff.

Find more information for employers of an on-call firefighter (including consent form).

The interview will assess your availability, commitment and fitness for the role.


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

You'll take the following tests:

  • physical, fitness and aptitude
  • written
  • psychometric (wholetime only)

Find out more about the tests that firefighters need to take.

These will be held at our Occupational Health Centre in Ipswich.

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 Approved to Ride course, you will need to take an initial six week training programme.

Wholetime firefighters training

When you are appointed to the role of wholetime firefighter, you will attend a specially-equipped training centre, where you will be taught basic firefighting skills such as ladder safety, hose laying and fire-pump operation.

The training course will involve classroom study, as well as practical training, and you will be continually assessed throughout to monitor your progress.

After grasping the basic skills of firefighting, you will progress to breathing apparatus (BA) training, which will be taught in realistic environments involving heat, smoke and darkness.

Upon successful completion of basic training, you will be allocated to a fire station within Suffolk, as a development firefighter.

This ten day course will be held at Wattisham Training Centre.

Depending on where you live in Suffolk accommodation may be offered.

Practical tuition


  • complete drills that involve tuition on how to pitch various types of ladders as a crew (team)
  • understand the operation of a fire appliance (engine) pump (enabling you to deliver water to the hose)
  • understand the movement and positioning of hose to enable you to deliver the water onto the fire
  • learn the various types of equipment carried on a fire appliance
  • be expected to understand where a range of equipment is carried on all front line fire appliances is kept

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.

If you have a question about the firefighter recruitment process, you can contact us:

  • Wholetime enquiries: email
  • On-call enquiries: phone to Martyn Hazelwood, On-call Firefighter Liaison Officer on 07951 640690 or 01638 676252