Freqently Asked Questions – Wholetime Recruitment
I have a criminal record. Can I still apply and join as a firefighter?
This will depend on the type of criminal record. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 says that if an applicant has a conviction or spent convictions and if the nature of the offence is relevant to the job that he or she has applied for, we will seek to review the individual circumstances of the case and may decide to withdraw candidates on this basis. Therefore, you can still apply and see what happens.
Can I join Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service even though I am an overseas national?
You must be eligible to work in the UK in order to apply and be considered for employment.
Do I need to live in the Leicestershire area to join the Service?
Yes, you will need to live in the Leicestershire, Leicester or Rutland area to join the Service.
What are the upper and lower age limits for joining as a firefighter?
You must be at least 18 years of age at the start of the initial training course. There is no upper age limit.
How tall do you need to be to become a firefighter?
There is no minimum height requirement. However, an individual’s height may impact on how safely they can operate certain equipment such as ladders.
How fit do you have to be to become a firefighter?
You do need a good level of fitness to be able to pass the practical selection assessments and fitness test. Most people who take part in a sport on a regular basis would be fit enough.
What qualifications do I need to become a firefighter?
You will be required to take an on-line assessment in Literacy, Numeracy and Mechanical Reasoning as part of the recruitment process. All new (non-Fire and Rescue Service employed) applicants will undertake the same assessment.
The details for accessing this will be sent to you once the application submission date has closed.
The firefighter training program is delivered through an apprenticeship which requires applicants to hold and able to evidence, or be able to achieve an approved level 2 Functional Skills qualification (or equivalent GSCE level) in both English and maths before they can successfully complete the apprenticeship.
Is there a requirement for a driving licence?
A full driving licence is desirable but not essential if you want to join Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service. Therefore, if you do not have one you can still apply however, we would encourage you to work towards achieving a driving licence as you may be required to drive our vehicles and asked to work at any location at short notice.
Is it ok to have a tattoo or body piercing?
In the interests of health and safety, all piercings and jewelry must be removed or taped over before starting operational duty. Tattoos are acceptable providing they are not deemed to be offensive. Tattoos will automatically be unacceptable if they are rude, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic or violent.
The Recruitment Process
How do I apply to become a wholetime firefighter?
During any live recruitment phase an active hyperlink will be available on our Wholetime Firefighter recruitment page which you should follow to complete the online application.
Can I send you my CV to hold on to?
No, speculative applications or CVs are not accepted for all Leicestershire Fire and Rescue vacancies. The application process for vacancies is intended to promote equality of opportunity for all applicants.
Will you accept my printed application form?
We do not normally accept printed application forms. All applications must be submitted via the online application process unless there is a very good reason. Any printed applications received without prior agreement will not be progressed.
What if I’m an on-call firefighter with another fire and rescue service?
You will be expected to complete the entire application process including all assessments.
Will Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service be accepting any external competent firefighter transfers?
We invite applications from Fire-fighters holding an operational contract with a Fire and Rescue Service. You will need to confirm your status and competence when you apply and further details of this are contained in the advert.
What are the entry tests to join Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service?
• Online application
• Online Behavioural Standards Questions and Situational Judgement Test
• Online Literacy, Numeracy and Mechanical Reasoning Assessment
• Multi-stage shuttle run (Bleep test – 20m/Level 8.8)
• Point of Entry Selection tests – these are role related and include: confined space test, equipment assembly, ladder climb, casualty evacuation, equipment carry, ladder extension and lower simulation, ladder lift simulation)
• A competency-based interview. Competencies can be found here.
• Pre-employment checks which include: references, a Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check and a confirmation fitness test.
What fitness tests will be applied?
You will be required to undergo a multi stage shuttle run often referred to as a bleep test. This test will require you to run shuttles between two lines 20 metres apart in time to a bleep that will be played on a loud speaker. The beeps will start off at a relatively slow speed and there will be multiple shuttles in each level or stage. At the end of each stage, the time between the bleeps will get slightly quicker. You will be required to reach the eighth shuttle of the eighth stage to pass your fitness test.
If I’m unsuccessful at any stage of the testing process can I re-sit?
You have to be successful at each stage of the recruitment process to progress to the next stage. We do not have the facility to allow candidates to re-sit the process.
What if I can’t make an assessment date or the training course date?
The dates of assessments and training course dates will be made known at the beginning of the recruitment process. If you are unable to make any of the dates you will not be able to continue with the recruitment process.
What will happen if I forget to attend an assessment date or the training course date?
You will be withdrawn from the recruitment process.
What will happen if I forget to attend an assessment or arrive late to any of the assessments?
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive and the strict timetable we will need to follow, we will be unable to rearrange assessments, therefore you will be withdrawn from the process.
What will happen if I forget to bring photographic ID with me to the assessment stages?
We need to ensure that the person we are assessing is the person that is applying for the role of wholetime firefighter, therefore if you do not bring photographic ID when requested you will be withdrawn.
What medical grounds could I fail on?
Individual applications are considered on a case by case basis in line with the specific requirements of the role. The Equality Act 2010 requires that reasonable adjustments are considered when a candidate identifies that they have a disability. The service medical advisers will discuss any medical conditions with the applicants prior to making a final decision. Please see the medical-related questions below for further information.
If I am appointed, how long do I have to wait until I begin my training?
A timetable of the recruitment process, including training arrangements, will be made available to all candidates.
Can I continue to work in my current job and undertake the wholetime recruitment process?
Yes, you can remain in any current employment throughout the recruitment and selection process, up until you were appointed.
Medical Related Questions
What checks does the medical encompass?
• Blood pressure check
• Pulse reading
• Hearing test
• Lung function test
• Measurement of your height and weight
• BMI (Body Mass Index)
• Eyesight test
• Drugs test.
How does the service deal with health conditions such as diabetes?
We treat each case as an individual basis and decisions relating to whether or not a medical condition will prevent you from becoming a firefighter can only be made following a detailed and individual assessment with our Occupational Health Department.
I would like to become a firefighter but I wear glasses or have had laser eye surgery, is that a problem?
Laser eye surgery and wearing glasses is not a problem and we will look at each person’s case individually. You will need to pass a standard eye test and we may need to send you for an eye check up with our own optician.
I think I am colour blind, is this an issue?
You should have an appropriate level of colour perception. Individuals with either normal colour vision or slightly abnormal green colour vision are suitable for appointment to the fire service. The recommended test procedure uses the Ishihara test as the initial screen, with two additional tests, if the applicant fails the screening, to determine the severity and type of colour vision deficiency. The results of these additional tests will be used to determine if an individual is able to become a firefighter
I struggle sometimes to hear things, will this be an issue?
Firefighting staff need to have a minimum hearing level to be considered ‘fit for role’, which would normally be H2. Individuals who are below H2 may require a capability assessment before any decisions can be made on fitness for the role. It is unlikely that individuals with hearing below H3 level (with aids if appropriate) would be safe on the fire ground. The worse ear is used to grade the individual in their placement with the Service.
I have a disability, can I become a firefighter?
Each application will be taken on its own merits and reasonable adjustments to both the role and the selection process will be considered where an applicant has a disability.
What if I have a medical issue?
Decisions relating to whether or not your medical issue will prevent you from becoming a firefighter can only be made following a detailed and individual assessment with our Occupational Health Department.
What if I have dyslexia?
If you have dyslexia or suspect you may have dyslexia, we are able to put appropriate measures in place to support you through the selection process. You will need to identify this on the application form and should you be shortlisted to the next stage you will be asked to submit an assessment report from an appropriately qualified health or education professional. This assessment report will help us identify how best we can support you, not only at selection stage but potentially throughout your fire service career. You may find it useful to contact the British Dyslexia Association.
What if I have asthma?
Asthma does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a firefighter. However, firefighters are exposed to smoke and other toxicants as part of their job and these are irritating to the lungs and upper respiratory tract and can exacerbate the symptoms of wheezing in firefighters with Asthma. Your condition will be assessed at the medical stage by our Occupational Health Department, after which a decision will be made as to your suitability for the role of firefighter.
Do I have to be fit to apply?
You will need a good level of fitness and maintain it throughout your career as a firefighter. You will be required to undertake a fitness test to determine your aerobic capacity upon entry into the service and this will take place at the same time as the job related tests. This test will involve the multi stage shuttle run and will assess whether you are able to meet the minimum acceptable level of fitness to become a firefighter. You will be expected to remain fit throughout your career in the service and will undergo regular fitness testing to ensure you continue to meet or exceeding this minimum standard.
Would somebody’s size affect their application?
No – this is a popular misconception because there used to be restrictions on height, weight and chest expansion. Candidates are expected to pass strength and fitness tests as part of the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout the career. The tests are at a level that is achievable by men and women of all different sizes and builds.
Do you have a policy on equality, diversity and inclusion in recruitment?
Yes we do have a policy on equality and diversity in recruitment. We actively promote diversity in the workforce and have the following accreditations:
• Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion
• Disability Confident Employer
• Equality Framework for Fire and Rescue Services
In addition, we have internal Staff Networks for LGBT (shOUT), Disability (ENABLE), Female Staff Network and a Race Network for BAME staff.
The Job Role
What do firefighters actually do, apart from putting fires out?
The emphasis for us in on prevention, which means firefighters helping to educate the community about the importance of fire safety. Therefore working with local communities and local businesses is a large part of a firefighter’s work now. Firefighters also deal with many other types of emergency: road/rail/air crashes, floods, chemical spills or rescuing people and animals trapped in other circumstances. They also spend a lot of time training and doing routine activities, such as checking equipment. In fact, most firefighters probably only spend about 5% of their time dealing with fires.
What salary will I receive?
The salary of a firefighter starts at £23,833 per annum for a trainee. A competent firefighter will earn a salary of £31,767 per annum and all new recruits will have a period of two years in which to achieve the necessary level of competence.
Will I have to pay for my uniform?
Uniform is provided free of charge, including any personal protective equipment (PPE).
If I am successful, which fire and rescue station will I be posted to?
You could be posted to any station within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (our service area).
Can I choose which fire and rescue station to work at?
Unfortunately not. We will do our best to place all new employees at a station that doesn’t cause significant inconvenience in terms of travel etc., but we must take into account where we need to fill vacancies.
What is the training commitment if I am successful?
Our trainee wholetime firefighters attend an initial training course lasting anything between eight to 12 weeks. It is an intensive course involving both practical and classroom based sessions. Firefighters learn about community safety issues, the use of breathing apparatus, ladder safety and much more. They do regular study and pass formal assessments on each element of the course. Being a firefighter means being able to respond to all sorts of challenges and you will be fully trained to meet these needs. The training helps firefighters stay safe while you are helping people often in desperate need. The training is designed to give confidence when doing the job and to develop skills.
Where will the training take place?
The exact location of training will be confirmed with every entry group. It is most likely to take place outside of Leicestershire for between eight and ten weeks, Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm. Accommodation will be provided, however there is no requirement for individuals to stay, if they would prefer to travel home.
I have other commitments and caring responsibilities. Is it possible to go home in the evenings during the Initial Training Course (ITC)?
It is our preference that all trainee firefighters complete the Initial Training Course on a residential basis. During the course a number of guest speakers will attend, extra-curricular team building activities will take place during the evenings, which all contribute to the learning and development of the cohort. While it is preferable that all trainee firefighters undertake these additional activities, we are aware that people may have, for example, caring responsibilities that mean they cannot reside full time on campus, and we will consider each situation individually. It is important to note, however, that there is an expectation that all trainee firefighters will be fit for service, capable of undertaking any training as required in the working day, and ensure that they can devote the time required to ensure all assessments are achieved and the course completed. In addition, there will be periods of self-study and elearning that will be expected to be completed outside the normal working day. During the Initial Training Course, the working day may start at around 8am. It is important to factor any additional travelling time incurred as a result of returning home each day, into the normal working hours for the duration of the course and ensure that this does not impact on individual health and welfare.
What happens after wholetime firefighter training?
After initial training, firefighters are posted to a fire station where they are guided through a programme of on-the-job training until they achieve competence in the role of firefighter. Training and development is important to Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service. Throughout their career firefighters will be offered further opportunities for training. It might be learning how to use a new piece of equipment, how to drive one of our vehicles, how to carry out a specialist task, or it might be training for promotion. Everyone gains qualifications which are nationally recognised and can lead to graduate and post-graduate qualifications.
Are there any career prospects?
Yes, there are opportunities for development and promotion. This could be moving into a specialist area such as fire protection (enforcing legislation in non-domestic premises) or becoming a manager (Crew Manager, Watch Manager, Station Manager, Group Manager, Area Manager).
Will I need to attend medical incidents and provide treatment to people?
Firefighters working in Leicestershire respond to certain medical emergencies in partnership with the East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust. For example, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service resources may be sent to help a person who is in cardiac arrest, where they are nearer than the ambulance service. This is a role for which they are equipped and trained. Firefighters will carry out basic life support using resuscitators, defibrillators and other equipment with the aim of delivering immediate life-saving aid to the person. Upon the arrival of ambulance service personnel, firefighters will then work with the ambulance service to continue treatment of the individual.
How does the shift pattern work?
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service operates three different shift patterns for operational staff. These are:
• 2-2-4 (2 day shifts followed by 2 night shifts then 4 days off)
• Day Crewing
• Day Crewing Plus
What is day crewing?
Day crewing relates to stations that will have wholetime firefighters operating during the day while the On-Call firefighters will respond to emergency calls after 7pm
What is day crewing plus?
Day Crewing Plus is a shift pattern that allows flexible rostering – each employee works their contractual number of shifts over the course of each calendar year (1 January to 31 December) within established defined principles. Firefighters can stay on station for up to five days and each fire and station will determine locally (by agreement) when the shifts are worked.
Are there sleep facilities on a night shift?
There are sleep facilities on a night shift. However a firefighter is expected to be operationally ready throughout the night shift
Which station will I get posted to once I complete my training?
We will post you to two stations for approximately 12 months each following your training known as the carousel. This will provide you with exposure to different shift patterns (2,2,4 or Day Crewing), different geographical areas and associated risk and incident profiles. Once this carousel has been completed you will receive a permanent posting within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in line with operational requirements.
Can I have a second job?
We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees can’t have a second job without first obtaining written approval from the Service.
Are you allowed to drink or smoke?
We have a policy which prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking in all of our premises.
If my faith requires me to fast, can I still be a Firefighter?
Yes, you can still fast, but it is important that all members of the Service are able to perform their core role whilst on duty. It is important to recognise that dehydration can affect a person very quickly. An individual may believe they are perfectly fine but very quickly succumb to the adverse effects of dehydration. We encourage staff who choose to fast to discuss it with their line manager.
I have a beard for religious reasons. Will I have to shave it off to be a firefighter?
We totally respect your religious needs, but for health and safety reasons facial hair below the top lip is not currently allowed. As a Firefighter you will need to wear a facemask when you’re wearing breathing apparatus. Facial hair can stop the mask from forming a seal around the face, which could let dangerous airborne chemicals in.
Do you have quotas for women and ethnic minority recruits?
No, but we encourage and welcome applications from these groups because they’re under-represented within our workforce. However, all applicants are assessed purely on merit.
As a practising Sikh, can I still be a Firefighter and wear a turban?
A new clause of the Deregulation Bill 2015 extends the existing exemption for Sikhs to have to wear a safety helmet under the Employment Act in all workplaces. However, there are exclusions for emergency response services and the military, which apply only in hazardous operational situations when the wearing of a safety helmet is considered necessary. These include, for example, entering a burning building where protective clothing needs to be worn to enclose the whole body, situations such as bomb disposal, or when dealing with hazardous materials like chemical leaks, bio-hazards or radiation.
Is the Firefighter uniform design the same regardless of gender?
All uniforms are made to the same design although necessary considerations are taken in account for the differences in gender form. All personal protective equipment, which includes tunics and trousers are made and fitted based on research that enables maximum protection based on different bodies, upon appointment you will have a kit fit to ensure you are properly protected in accordance to your body.