How To Become A Firefighter

Firefighters help protect people, their property and the environment from fire. Firefighters control fires and rescue people in other emergencies too, including explosions, bombs, building collapses and road accidents. Becoming a firefighter in the fire and rescue service does not come easily. In fact many serving firefighters have spent months and years applying and preparing themselves prior to application.

To become a firefighter, you’ll be expected to know or be willing to learn how to:

  • Suppress and extinguish fires with hoses, pumps and additional apparatus.
  • Evacuate fire structures and treat victims
  • Drive and operate emergency vehicles and pump engines
  • Maintain firefighting equipment
  • Participate in public education


Skills required

The skills you need to become a firefighter are:

  • Confidence.
  • Resilience.
  • leadership
  • Adaptability.
  • Integrity.
  • Commitment to diversity.
  • excellent communication skills

Entry requirements

To apply you will have to be at least 18, your hiring process will typically include a written examination, oral interview, background investigation, drug screening and physical aptitude/agility exam. You’ll be asked to provide an extensive job history, academic record, credit history, and a list of personal references.


  • The starting salary for a firefighter is £22,017 and it could go up to £29,345 when full competence is achieved.
  • An Experienced crew manager can earn £31,100
  • A station manager’s earning potential is between £37,842 and £41,737 plus overtime rates, subject to the officer’s level of competence.
  • Part-time on-call firefighters are paid £2,000 to £3,000.

Working hours

  • Wholetime firefighters:work for the fire service full time and usually cover urban areas, you’ll work a 42 hour week which includes shifts to cover a 24 hour service. A typical shift pattern is 2 day shifts, 2 night shifts and 4 days off-duty.


  • Retained firefighters: on-call responderswho usually cover rural areas. you will have no formal hours but agree to be available quickly in emergency situations. You’ll typically live or work within five minutes or one mile of the fire station and respond to pagers when an emergency call is received. You’ll either be self-employed or work for an employer willing to allow you to leave work immediately to attend an emergency.


There are always opportunities to progress in the organisation, with annual promotion rounds at every level open to all eligible staff. Not only can you progress with promotion but there are numerous opportunities to diversify the role you undertake. There are many specialist roles such as Fire Investigation, Urban Search and Rescue, Health and Safety, Community Safety, to name a few.  Depending on your ambition, we offer a potential rich and varied career, career development typically runs as follows:

  • Crew manager: responsible for a small crew and takes charge of smaller incidents and provides support to the watch manager.
  • Watch manager: in charges of multiple crew when there is a major incident and may have duties as a fire safety inspector.
  • Station manager – guarantees the service’s delivery at one or more fire stations and may take charge of larger incidents.
  • Group manager: responsible for the service across a geographical area (e.g. London) or a specialist department, such as training.
  • Area manager: responsible for a larger geographical area or for heading a directorate.
  • Brigade manager: in charge of departments and supports the chief fire officer.
  • Chief fire officer: responsible for guaranteeing effective delivery of all fire and rescue service duties.