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Firefighter: Entry requirements

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Firefighter jobs are open to all, no further education qualifications are needed although they may prove useful during the selection process, when it's important to stand out from the competition


Personal qualities and physical attributes are more important than academic qualifications, though a good general education is required. A degree or other further education qualifications are not essential and entry without a degree or HND is common.

There are, however, a number of vocationally focused, graduate entry degree courses available:

  • BSc (Hons) Fire and Leadership Studies at the University of Central Lancashire - in partnership with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service;
  • BSc (Hons) Fire and Rescue at the University of Wolverhampton - in partnership with West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service.

These courses don't guarantee entry into the fire and rescue service but aim to equip students with the skills needed to pursue a career in the fire industry, for more details see Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) .

Other related degree courses in areas including fire engineering, fire safety and risk management or fire and explosion are also available, see materials science courses for more options.

Applicants for the position of firefighter need to be aged 18 or over. After successful completion of an application form, you'll go through the standard national selection process called the NFS (National Firefighter Selection), as well as a Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQA) test to ensure you're suitable for the role.

Applicants then move on to physical tests carried out in full firefighter uniform. The next step's an interview, and towards the end of the selection process you'll be invited to attend a medical. Good vision in both eyes and good hearing are also essential. For more information on the NFS process see Fire Service .

To improve your chances of entry, you need to keep fit and gain as much information as possible about both the role and fire and rescue service in general. To keep up to date with relevant fire issues, join the UK Fire Service Forum .


As well as physical fitness,you need to show:

  • effective communication skills;
  • integrity, composure and a reassuring manner;
  • ability to follow instructions;
  • teamworking skills in the fire and rescue service and the community;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • patience, understanding and sensitivity;
  • confidence and resilience;
  • adaptability and flexibility;
  • sound judgement, courage, decisiveness, quick reactions and the ability to stay calm in difficult circumstances;
  • the willingness and ability to learn on a continuing basis;
  • an interest in promoting community safety, education and risk prevention.

You may also need a full UK driving licence.

Work experience

Due to health and safety requirements, work experience isn't possible although you may be able to be placed as an observer in a fire station or attend an open day, so contact the fire and rescue service you're interested in to enquire.

Depending on your circumstances, if you can work as a volunteer or retained firefighter this would help your chances of getting a full-time position.

Firefighter employers

Fire and rescue services only recruit when they need firefighters to replace those who are retiring or leaving the service and competition is fierce. Each fire service recruits independently so contact services directly. The current economic climate and public sector cuts may affect the number of jobs available.

In England, there are 46 fire and rescue services run by fire and rescue authorities (FRA). For a list of services by region, see the Chief Fire Officers Association .

Wales has three services:

Responsible for the whole of Scotland is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (SFRS) ; while Northern Ireland is divided into four area commands and overseen by the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) .

Private and public sector employers include:

  • Ministry of Defence (MoD) Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation (DFRMO);
  • Royal Air Force (RAF) ;
  • civil airport and port fire services;
  • forest industry;
  • industrial fire services protecting private companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical, nuclear, oil and gas industries.

Job vacancies

  • Individual UK fire and rescue service websites.
  • Fire
  • Fire Service - offers a firefighter recruitment text service for a fee.
  • myjobscotland - register for alerts for SFRS vacancies.

Get more tips on how to find job vacancies.


Further information

Written by AGCAS editors
July 2014

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