Firefighter written and practical tests

About the different written and practical tests that you'll need to complete to become an on-call firefighter.

The written and practical tests are stage 3 of how to become an on-call firefighter.

Fitness and aptitude video and about the practical test

The work of a firefighter is physically demanding and therefore physical training is important as part of ongoing development. In order to maintain physical fitness, exercise must be undertaken on a regular basis.

Our Firefighter Fitness Programme (PDF, 1MB) provides guidance on developing and maintaining:

  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • muscular fitness
  • flexibility
  • general health benefits

Fitness and aptitude testing video

Fitness and Aptitude test

  • 20 metre beep test (you should aim for level 8.8)
  • 1 x 35kg overhead press
  • 1 x 60kg single rope lateral pulldown
  • 23 x 28kg single rope multiple lateral pulldown in 60 seconds

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.

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.

About the written tests

The National Firefighter Ability (NFA) tests are part of the written test stage of the recruitment process.

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.
  • You don't need to take the numbers test if you've obtained Grade C/Level 2 and above in GCSE Maths; however, you'll need to bring certificate(s) as proof

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.
  • You don't need to take the numbers test if you've obtained Grade C/Level 2 and above in GCSE English; however, you'll need to bring certificate(s) as proof

Further information: