Fire Fighters react to emergency situations to protect people, animals and property from fires, traffic incidents, floods, bomb threats and environmental hazards. They will work with the local community to advise on fire safety and how to prevent them in the first place. Many firefighters are retained which means they have other full-time jobs but carry pagers and will respond when an emergency call is received. Whole-time firefighters normally work in larger towns and cities and this will be their full-time job. Hours of work will be in shifts and will typically include unsociable hours.
Aviation firefighters will fight fires in aircraft and buildings at airports they will also deal with hazardous spills and provide rescue and first-aid services for aircraft passengers and crew and provide technical advice about fire safety as well as assisting in educating airport users about firefighting and safety.
You can get into this job through:
You could take a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Public Services before applying to the fire service, although this is not essential.
You'll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
The following local colleges offer courses in Public Services:
- City College Norwich
- East Coast College
- One Sixth Form College
- Suffolk New College
- The College of West Anglia
- West Suffolk College
Or your local 6th form may offer a relevant course.
You may be able to start training on an operational firefighter advanced apprenticeship. You'll need to be employed by a fire service to do this.
You'll usually need GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, in English and maths.
Click here to search for an apprenticeship.
You can apply directly to join the fire service. Each one sets its own entry requirements.
Many ask for GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.
You'll need to pass:
- an online test to assess your judgement ability in a realistic work setting number and reading tests
If you’re successful, you'll:
- do practical selection tests to find out whether you can do the physical tasks needed for the job
- be interviewed
A fire service training course
You could prepare to apply for a job by doing a Level 2 Certificate in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community. This course is usually run by local fire services and is aimed at people who have some responsibility for fire safety, like housing wardens and fire prevention officers.
Restrictions and requirements
You'll need to:
- pass a fitness test
- pass a medical check
- pass enhanced background checks
- have a full driving licence
- be over 18 years of age
- Some fire services may only accept applications from people living in the local and surrounding areas.
Most fire services take on new recruits once every 12 months, so you’ll need to find out when they are recruiting next.
Volunteering or working in a support role, for example emergency call handling or fire safety, will give you an idea of what the job is like, as well as access to internal vacancies.
Career Path and Progression
All fire services have a programme that lets you plan and track your career development.
You could work your way up to crew manager, watch manager or station manager. If you're prepared to move between services, you could become an area manager, a brigade manager or a chief fire officer.
If you're involved in fire safety and prevention work, you can take professional qualifications leading to membership of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE).
You could also get a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence for driving fire engines.
Related careers you may be interested in:
- Police officer
- Police community support officer
- Bomb disposal technician
- Excellent team working abilities
- Able to follow instructions
- The ability to keep calm and reassure others
- Good problem solving skills
- Physical strength and endurance
- Good interpersonal skills
- An interest in promoting community safety
£23,500 to £38,500