Wholetime Firefighter

What does a firefighter do?

The demands of our fire service have changed considerably in recent times and the role of a firefighter has grown and adapted from the traditional image of rescuing people from a burning building. While we do still attend fires, we also attend road traffic collisions, people trapped, floods and storms, water and rope rescues, chemical spillages and training to respond to the growing threat of terrorism. 

Prevention and education are a key focus for us in order to make our communities safer. Our firefighters spend a lot of time in the community, visiting people in their homes providing safe and wellbeing visits and fire prevention advice and speaking to schools, community groups and voluntary groups to educate and promote fire safety. They must be able to communicate effectively with all individuals and people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

To become a firefighter, you must be at least 17 years and 6 months old. Full training is provided and we welcome applications from everyone, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity. With such a varied job, firefighters need a combination of intelligence, courage, compassion, determination and creativity as well as a good level of fitness.


An overview of the selection process is outlined below. 

Stage 1 – Registration and eligibility screening

You will need to complete a basic online questionnaire to make sure you are eligible to apply.

Stage 2 - Behavioural styles questionnaire and situational judgement test

These online assessments explore your preferred behaviours and values in a working environment, as well as your judgement and decision making skills. Click on the links below to look at some examples.

Behavioural styles questionnaire 

Situational judgement test

Stage 3 -  Ability tests 

These online tests will assess your:

Mechanical reasoning

Numerical reasoning

Verbal reasoning

Please click the link to access the online practice tests.

Stage 4 – Role related tests

Applicants will attend the role related (physical) tests which are held at our training facility. 

The role of a firefighter is physically demanding, and it is important for us to assess your ability to handle the situations and challenges you will face.   We do this through a series of physical and practical tests. 

These consist of:

  •  Ladder Climb - testing your confidence with heights.
  •  Casualty Evacuation - testing your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination.
  •  Ladder Lift - to test your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination.
  •  Enclosed Space - tests your confidence, agility and stamina when working in enclosed spaces.
  •  Equipment Assembly - designed to assess your manual dexterity and co-ordination.
  •  Equipment Carry - tests your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination.  

Stage 5 - Competency- based interview

This will be our chance to get to know more about you and for you to tell us how you meet the requirements for the role.

You will be asked competency-based questions to explore how you have used specific skills in your previous roles and your approach to problems, tasks and challenges.

Stage 6 – Fitness test and medical

Applicants will attend a fitness test and medical to ensure you meet the nationally agreed health and fitness standards of a firefighter.  This will include:

  •  VO2 max treadmill test
  •  Alcohol and drugs test
  •  Blood pressure
  •  Eyesight test
  •  Hearing test
  •  Grip test
  •  Lung function test


As a guide, you are likely to have the minimum level of cardiorespiratory fitness required if you can:

  • run 1.5 miles (2.4km) continuously in 12 minutes or less
  • run on a treadmill at 7.5 mph (12km/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 25kg once in an overhead, upright seated position.

Stage 7 – Pre-employment checks

We will check your references and carry out a baseline personnel security standard (BPSS) check prior to offering you a post as a firefighter.

How we will use your data

Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) any data collected in the course of any recruitment campaigns will be used by 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.