Being a wholetime firefighter

A wholetime firefighter is someone who has a full-time job with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

Two firefighters help each other put on specialist harnesses

Being a wholetime firefighter

A wholetime firefighter is someone who has a full-time job with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

The role of a firefighter is rewarding. They respond to fires, rescues and other emergencies, as well as working 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 or visiting businesses to explain about fire safety
  • making people of all ages and from different backgrounds aware of fire prevention and road safety
  • attending open days and events

What are we looking for?

Here are some of qualities and attributes we look for in a firefighter:

  • trustworthy and reliable
  • able to understand and respect diversity and adopt a fair and ethical approach to others
  • open to change and actively seek to support it
  • an effective communicator, both verbally and in writing
  • willing to work scheduled shifts including nights, weekends and public holidays
  • able to understand, retain, apply and adapt relevant information in an organised, safe and systematic way
  • able to work effectively with others, both within the fire and rescue service and the community
  • able to maintain an active awareness of the environment to promote safe and effective working
  • committed to work and able to develop yourself and others
  • able to adopt a conscientious and proactive approach to work to achieve excellent standards
  • able to maintain a confident and resilient attitude in highly challenging situations

Learn more at

Meet Ben, a wholetime firefighter with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service:

Fitness, tests and qualifications

Every firefighter is expected to maintain their fitness throughout their career, and will have their fitness assessed every year.

Written tests

All applicants will be required to take and pass the two online written assessments in English and Maths and these will be sat prior to being invited to the physical aptitude tests.

Psychometric tests

You will be required to complete an online assessment, which will tell us more about you.

It has been specifically designed to capture how you go about tackling challenges, allowing us to objectively measure how you naturally approach problems and react to changes in requirements, risk and uncertainty.

Fitness, aptitude and practical tests

  • 20 metre bleep test (you will be required to achieve level 8.8)
  • 1 x 35kg overhead press
  • 1 x 60kg single rope lateral pulldown
  • 28kg single rope lateral pulldown: 23 pulldowns in 60 seconds
  • ladder climb with leg lock
  • confined space crawl
  • equipment assembly
  • equipment carry

Watch examples of these tests on the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service YouTube channel:

20 metre bleep test:

1 x 35kg overhead press:

1 x 60kg single rope lateral pulldown:

28kg single rope lateral pulldown:

Ladder climb with leg lock:

Confined space crawl:

Equipment assembly:

Equipment carry:

Training and development

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.

Development and probationary period

You will be on probation for your first year and in development until you demonstrate you have achieved the correct level of knowledge, skills and performance in your role as a firefighter.

You will follow a formal development programme, throughout which your performance will be continuously assessed. The development programme includes:

  • Safe working practices
  • Conduct
  • Equipment and procedures
  • Fire safety and community education

You will continue to be developed and assessed throughout your career in the Fire and Rescue Service, and will be expected to participate in all relevant training and development activity.


If you are taken on as a firefighter apprentice, you will attend the same basic training at a specially-equipped training centre, being taught basic firefighting skills such as ladder safety, hose laying and fire-pump operation.

You will then progress to breathing apparatus (BA) training, which will be taught in realistic environments involving heat, smoke and darkness. After successful completion of basic training, your development will follow the operational firefighter apprenticeship standard.

Further development and skill acquisition, over and above this standard, will also take place throughout the apprenticeship. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship endpoint assessment, you will be qualified at the national standard required for operational firefighters.


Once deemed competent, you may choose to stay as a firefighter at the location you have been posted to, honing your skills whilst gaining further experience.

You may also consider requesting to work at another location within Suffolk, or progress your career through management roles, and help steer Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service in to the future.

Diversity, inclusion and culture

Anyone can apply to work for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

There are some basic requirements to meet if you would like to become a firefighter, but equality, diversity and inclusion are part of our culture.

We want Suffolk to be a great place to work, a place where all our staff enjoy coming to work, feel they can be themselves and their differences are accepted as being an important and valued part of a wider and inclusive team. 

Read more about our commitment to diversity, inclusion and culture.

Suffolk County Council staff networks

Suffolk County Council is proud to have a number of active staff networks supporting and promoting groups of staff, councillors and partners that share similar characteristics, life experiences, values and beliefs.

Networks influence the organisation to be more inclusive, through work on policy, service development, training, communications, events, culture and have a seat at Suffolk County Council's Strategic Equalities and Inclusion Board.

The staff networks are run by SCC staff for SCC staff, councillors, and other public sector partners:

  • Black and Asian network
  • Christian Fellowship
  • The disABILITY! network
  • Mental Health network
  • SCC LGBT+ staff network
  • Vegan Network
  • Women's staff network
  • Young Adults' network

Staff networks within Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service:

How to apply

The window for 2022 recruitment is now open. Please visit Suffolk Jobs Direct Careers to complete an application. The window will close 08 February 2022. 

If you would like to attend a Taster Day event to find out more, please visit Suffolk County Fire and Rescue Service ( and register with us. 


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 will also need to:

  • be aged over 18 or over on 1 September 2021
  • eligible to work in the UK
  • hold a full and current driving licence that entitles you to drive in the UK without restrictions with no more than 6 penalty points)
  • be able to attend the full assessment process
  • be able to swim
  • pass the unaided vision eye test

Visit Suffolk Firefighters website to apply