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Recruitment procedure

Stage one: register interest, realistic job preview, and eligibility check

Stage two: written tests

This section consists of three different written tests and will take approximately two hours to complete. The tests are as follows:

  • Understanding information - assesses an applicant's ability to read and understand written information.
  • Working with numbers - assesses an applicant's ability to understand and work with numerical information.
  • Problem solving and situational awareness - assesses an applicant's ability to ensure the safety of themselves and others and their ability to use information to solve problems.

Please download the National Firefighter Ability Tests Practice Leaflet to prepare you and give guidance as to what to expect at the written assessment.

You may also find the following external links helpful:


How to Pass Mechanical Reasoning Test (With Test Questions Examples and Answers Explained)


Free timed tests


Mechanical reasoning tests on Google

If your assessment is successful, you will be invited to attend the next stage of the process.

Stage three: fitness assessment

This stage consists of the ‘Bleep Test’ and practical job related tests.

The fitness test will be the multi-stage fitness test, also known as the 'Bleep Test'. The test involves running continuously between two points that are 20m apart from side to side. The runs are synchronised with a recording, which plays beeps at set intervals. As the test proceeds, the interval between each successive beep decreases, forcing the participants to increase their speed over the course of the test until it is impossible to keep in sync with the recording. The required level is 8.8 shuttles.

The job related tests are designed to assess your level of fitness, strength and manual dexterity as well as your level of confidence in simulated exercises. This will include five different tests.

Stage four: practical assessment

These tests are designed to assess your level of fitness, strength and manual dexterity as well as your level of confidence in simulated exercises. This will include five different tests:

The ladder climb - this tests your confidence for working at height and while not physically demanding can be challenging.

The equipment assembly test - this tests manual dexterity and the ability to follow instruction.

Ladder lift - the ladder lift test simulates the individual physical demands of lifting and lowering the head of a 13.5 metre ladder back on top of a fire appliance. A total load of approximately 30kg, lifted to a height of 1.90m is required to successfully complete this test.

Equipment carry test - the equipment carry test is essentially a shuttle test that will test your levels of aerobic endurance, muscular strength and muscular endurance. It is designed to replicate some of the physical demands involved in setting up a water relay station to supply water to a grassland fire. The test is performed back and forth along a 25 metre shuttle whilst wearing full firefighter personal protective equipment (approx. 10 kg) and must be completed in five minutes, eight seconds or less. The total distance covered is 550m.

Confined Space/BA test - this is more a test of your ability to cope with dark and confined spaces and has only low to moderate physical demands, although good levels of flexibility and body awareness will be an advantage.

Full instruction is given on the day and you will be provided with fire service protective clothing to wear.

During the day you will have your uniform/PPE measurements taken, for the purposes of ordering kit later on.

These tests will be conducted at a location in or near Exeter. You can find links to information that will support you with your fitness plan on our website. Full instruction is given on the day. Please download the physical advice leaflet for guidance regarding fitness. Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have a series of videos demonstrating similar tests together with some suggested training techniques.


Physical training guidance

The role of a firefighter can be physically demanding and it is important to consider your physical fitness before taking part in the selection process. General exercise guidance is available on the FireFit steering group website. These guidelines are not compulsory for the selection process, but may help if you wish to improve your physical fitness. If you are in any doubt about your health or physical ability to exercise, or have not done much physical fitness training before, consult your doctor or seek advice from a trained professional before your start.

Read the Preparatory Fitness Programme

Stage five: interview

If successful at the practical assessment you will be invited to interview. This will be a behavioural interview, meaning that the questions asked are focused on your past experiences. The interview panel will consist of two or three members of staff and you will be asked questions relating to your skills and personal attributes to determine your suitability for the role of a firefighter.

We recognise that potential recruits may have little to no experience of the job role and it would be unreasonable to expect you to know about it in advance.

Stage six: medical assessment

You will be invited to attend our Occupational Health Centre for a medical and fitness assessment. The medical currently includes:



blood pressure

urinalysis (urine tested for various abnormalities)

eye test - near and distance vision (with and without spectacles if worn)

breathing test (lung function)

hearing test (audiometry)

fitness assessment.

You will be asked questions about your health and any disabilities or medical needs you may have.

We receive many enquiries regarding current and/or past medical issues and cannot give definitive guidance regarding these issues as consultation between service doctors and GP's will decide if an applicant is suitable to carry out the role of a firefighter and it should be understood that all cases will be viewed individually.

In line with the Data Protection Act, we do not divulge any medical information to anyone outside of occupational health without your written consent.

A fitness assessment will be carried out by the fitness adviser as part of your medical. Here you will be asked to take a gas analysis assessment. The VO2 max test will consist of a maximal exercise test on a treadmill whilst connected to the analyser with a face mask. The procedure that will be adopted utilises a slight jogging speed and increments in gradient as well as speed. This is a proven cardio pulmonary assessment for measuring aerobic capacity.


Firefighter eyesight requirements

As we get older our eyesight deteriorates. Firefighters require a certain level of eyesight to enable them to carry out their role. With this natural deterioration it stands to reason that firefighters must meet the required standard of vision when applying to join the fire service. You can find more information here at the Visual Standards on Appointment.


Stage seven: References

In the course of the process you will be requested to provide references. References will be taken up at medical stage. You should provide two references on your application form, one personal and one business, the latter of which should be your current or most recent employer.


On successful completion of all the stages you will be issued a contract of employment and a start date for your initial training.

For further details regarding all stages of the application and recruitment process please visit


To complete the Disclosure & Barring Scotland checks, i.e. the criminal records check, you will be asked to complete a form which is then sent to Disclosure Scotland. You will be sent the results which you will need to present to the Service at the earliest opportunity.

When the references have come back and the DBS checks are satisfactory, you will be issued with a contract to start training.


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