Safest People, Safest Places

Firefighter Recruitment Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some FAQs that you may find helpful.  Please refer to these before you contact us with a query.

The Process

What is the recruitment process?


Stage 1.  Registration. Job preview and eligibility screening


Stage 2.  Behavioural style questionnaire. 


Stage 3.  Situational judgement questionnaire. 


Stage 4.  Ability tests (numerical, mechanical & verbal)


Stage 5.  Role related tests


Stage 6.  Competency based interview. 


Stage 7.  Occupational Health Medical. 


Stage 8.  Pre-employment checks


Start date

Stages 1 to 4 are completed online, allowing you to complete them at a time that is convenient to you. 


Will you tell me when I can complete each stage?

If you successfully pass the Eligibility Screening (part of Registration), you will be sent a link and log-in details for Stages 2-4.  Please keep these safe.  Check your Spam folder if you are expecting to receive your log-ins but they don’t arrive in your inbox.  You can then complete each of the other stages within the dates and times stated.  Further details are contained within the Information Booklet.


What information will I need to register? 

You will need your national insurance number and a personal e-mail address (because that is how we will communicate with you and the e-mails will contain details on how to access your personal information).  N.B. you can only register once, so please ensure all the information is correct before you submit.  There will be no opportunity to amend the information that you have provided.


Are you accepting inter-service transfers or retained to wholetime transfers?

We have different strategies for recruiting and we are not currently accepting transfers.


Can I complete the test on my mobile phone or tablet?

You are advised not to use a mobile phone or tablet to complete the tests. The following browsers are compatible with the online testing system:

* Internet Explorer 9 and above

* Firefox 4.0 and above

* Google Chrome 10.0 and above

* Safari 5 and above (Mac and PC)

Your browser should also have JavaScript and Cookies enabled.  The tests are designed to be viewed with a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768 pixels.


Can I retake the tests if I lose internet connection or if I am not happy with my score?

No.  You will need to ensure that your internet connection is reliable.  Unfortunately, you have only one opportunity to take each test.


I have a disability, what reasonable adjustments can you make for me?

Please contact us by emailing:  and in the Subject Field write ‘reasonable adjustment’.  We will contact you to discuss your individual condition and needs.  All requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis.


What qualifications will I need to apply for the role of firefighter?

No formal qualifications are required however applicants are required to be successful in various psychometric tests before being invited to attend the physical assessments.


Are there any height limits?

There are no maximum or minimum height limits.


If invited for interview, what questions will be asked?

The questions you are asked during interview will be competency-based.  The aim of competency-based interviews are to explore how you have used specific skills in your previous roles (paid or voluntary) and what your approach to problems, tasks and challenges would be.  This type of interview is based on the premise that past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour.

Should you be successful at the physical tests and invited for interview, you will have access to an interview practice booklet prior to attending. 


What can I do now to work towards the fitness tests?

Following the Fire Fit research into the physical demands of UK firefighting, the levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and physical strength and muscular endurance described below, serve as a guide to inform applicants on how best to prepare for the National Firefighter Selection Tests (NFST). While this does not guarantee success at NFST, it provides applicants with some guidance on expected physical competencies for selection.

You are likely to have the minimum level of cardiorespiratory fitness for UK firefighting if you can:

  • Run 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometres) continuously in 12 minutes or less  (This is equal to running 6 laps of a 400 m outdoor athletics track in 12 minutes).
  • Run on a treadmill at 7.5 mph (12 km/h) for 12 minutes.
  • Perform the multi-stage shuttle run test (bleep test) to at least level 8 shuttle 8.

You are likely to have the minimum physical strength and muscular endurance if you can:

  • Shoulder press 30 kg once in an overhead, upright seated position.


Medical information

What is the eyesight requirement?

The visual entry standards for firefighters are:

  • Unaided visual acuity of 6/60 and read N48 at least 30cm with both eyes open.
  • Have a corrected visual acuity of at least 6/9 and read N12 at 30cm with both eyes open.  Please note, applicants can use glasses of an appropriate specification on the fire ground should they need to obtain this standard of vision.
  • Have normal binocular visual field determined by confrontation techniques or formal testing methods.
  • Operational firefighters must have an appropriate level of colour perception.  Individuals with either normal colour vision or slightly abnormal green colour vision are suitable for appointment.

If you are unsure whether you meet these criteria, you are advised to seek advice from a qualified optometrist.

Candidates who have undergone laser eye surgery will not be considered for an appointment to a position for a minimum of 12 months after the date of the procedure. Although, this does not preclude you from joining the recruitment process.


Can I apply if I wear glasses?

As part of the medical, candidates undergo an optician's examination. If you require glasses and depending on your eyesight, the Fire Service will equip you with prescription safety glasses.


I have a medical condition; will this affect my application?

Fire and Rescue Authorise are required to assess each applicant on an individual basis with regard to their suitability to perform the role of a firefighter, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. In addition, under current legislation, as a Fire and Rescue Authority we need to ensure that individuals are safe at work for their own protection and that of others.

This means, that we will consider what reasonable adjustments could be made to enable you to proceed with your application. To ensure that your health, safety and wellbeing in the work environment is maintained, you will need to tell us about any condition or medication that you are taking.

Prior to applying, if you have any queries about your health condition or medication that you are taking, you may wish to contact: to discuss this.



Pay and benefits

How much annual leave would I be entitled to?

Within County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, on entry the paid Annual Leave entitlement is 25 allocated 'A' days and 13 other days (inclusive of bank holidays). However, other Fire Services may vary leave entitlement to suit local conditions.


If I am successful what salary can I expect?

Wholetime Firefighter

Annual £

Monthly £










N.B. from Trainee to Competent may be a minimum of three years.

Would I be able to progress my career in the Fire Service?

Yes, there are opportunities for development and promotion, as well as alternative roles and opportunities to learn new skills such as HGV driver, advanced water rescue and level 3 working at height.  


Is there a pension scheme?

New entrants will be contractually enrolled on to the Firefighter Pension scheme 2015, the benefits of the pension include;

  • A secure pension with benefits set out in law.
  • A pension of 1/59.7th of your pay every year, added to your pension account and protected against inflation.
  • The option to convert part of your pension into a tax-free lump sum when you retire.
  • Immediate payment of pension benefits if you.
  • Retire at pension age – 60, or retire early from age 55 (but with an early payment reduction).
  • Have to retire because of permanent ill health or injury at any age.
  • You can take partial retirement, at or after the age of 55 without leaving employment.
  • A lump sum of three years’ final pay if you die in service.
  • Family and dependant benefits.
  • A substantial employer contribution towards the cost of your benefits.
  • The opportunity to transfer previous benefits into the scheme in the first 12 months of membership.
  • The choice of deferring payment of your pension benefits until State Pension Age if you leave the scheme early, or transferring them to another pension arrangement (unless you were a member for less than three months when you would get a refund of contributions instead).
  • Employee contributions vary from 10% to 14.5% of your pay depending on your rate of pay. 


Your information

What will happen to my data?

Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) any data collected in the course of any recruitment campaigns will be used County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and / or our recruitment partners for quality assurance purposes pertaining to the individual campaign.  Following the conclusion of each campaign, your data will be securely disposed of and you will need to re-register for any other campaign that you wish to apply for.


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