How to become a wholetime firefighter

See what personal attributes are needed for the role of a wholetime firefighter and when can you apply for the role of a wholetime firefighter.

Firefighter role

The role of a firefighter is incredibly rewarding and it’s changing. Not only do firefighters respond to fires and other emergencies, but they work on preventing them happening in the first place through education and safety messaging. Everyone at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service prides themselves on putting our community first.

Our firefighters spend a lot of time out in the community conducting home safety checks in people’s homes, visiting businesses to improve their fire safety, and talking to people of all ages and from different backgrounds about fire prevention, road safety and other safety messages. They are also involved in open days and other events, encouraging people to consider how they can make their homes and businesses safer.

Personal qualities and attributes you need to have

A firefighter’s role can involve a range of challenging situations and, to help you decide whether this is the job is for you, we have prepared a pre-application checklist for you to complete.

Are you:

  • trustworthy and reliable?
  • able to understand and respect diversity and adopt a fair and ethical approach to others?
  • open to change and actively seeks to support it.
  • an effective communicator (both verbally and in writing)?
  • willing to work scheduled shifts including nights, weekends and public holidays?
  • able to drive or, work towards a full driving licence?
  • 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.

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.

Aptitude test

We have put together a film that gives you an insight into the type of tasks that you would be asked to do at the aptitude test.

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.

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