Prepare for National Firefighter Ability Tests and Interview

Are you applying for a firefighter position with a UK Fire and Rescue service and want to find out more about the firefighter ability tests? Here we will focus on them and give you practical advice, guidance and point you in the direction of practice materials.
 
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There are a number of different stages in firefighter recruitment. These are:

Application Form 

The application form is your first opportunity to introduce yourself as a prospective firefighter. The application form is the stage where traditionally the most people are removed from the process, so to stand a chance of getting invited to take the firefighter selection tests, you must make sure that your application is as good as it can be.

Some advice for candidates includes:

  • Read instructions carefully.
  • Answer the questions on the form fully.
  • Use any open ended questions on the application form to show how you have shown the skills in the PQAs in your past experience.
  • Use examples to back up any claims that you make on the form.
  • Take care with spelling and grammar, and check your form over before you send it in.
  • Plan your answers before you put them on the form to make sure that they say everything you want them to say.

You are often asked to upload a CV. When doing so, it is important to include the key values of the fire and rescue services, the PQA’s. Moreover, many of them have their own set of values that you should try and include as well. Knowing how to do this is sometimes difficult as you have to present your skills in a different light than you normally do. Try out our CV pack to show your skills in the best possible way.

National Firefighters Selection Tests (NFST)

There are six national physical tests that you must pass in order to become a firefighter. These tests are based on the physical demands of being a firefighter, and assess your fitness, strength and manual dexterity.

The six tests are:

  • Ladder climb test – this is a test of your confidence up a ladder, including climbing up the ladder, performing actions at the top of the ladder, and looking down to describe objects at ground level.
  • Casualty evacuation test – this is a test of lower and upper body strength. In this test you drag a 55kg weight around a course, walking backwards.
  • Ladder lift test – this is a test of upper and lower body strength. The aim is to raise a bar off the ground, and lower it from full height to place it on a support.
  • Breathing apparatus crawl test – this is a test of your confidence, agility and claustrophobia when working in an enclosed space. In this test, you crawl through a course in full gear, with some areas allowing clear vision, but some with obscured vision.
  • Equipment assembly test – this is a test of your manual dexterity. You are asked to assemble and disassemble an item of equipment.
  • Equipment carry test – this is a test of your aerobic fitness, muscular strength and stamina. In this test you have to pick up and carry objects for varying distances.

National Firefighter Interview

If you pass all the earlier tests, you are next invited to an interview at your brigade. The interview could well be the first time you meet members of the fire brigade you wish to work with, so it is important that you give the best impression you can. The purpose of this interview is to measure your abilities against the PQAs. Ahead of the interview, don’t forget to review your application form and your answers providing examples of you fit the PQAs. Plan some examples from your past experience to use to answer the questions. Sketch out answers to questions like the ones below. And don’t forget to practice your interview technique. See how JobTestPrep’s online interview preparation can help you.

Examples of fire service interview questions include:

  • Give me an example of when you have worked as part of a team.
  • Describe a time when you have helped support diversity.
  • When have you been aware of a person who was behaving in a way which was contrary to the values of the team or organisation?
  • When have you tried to improve the way you do something?
  • When have you made a mistake that affected others?
  • When you have been in a stressful situation what do you do to relieve the pressure or do you allow it to build up inside of you?
  • You are applying for a job in which your lifestyle will change. Will this be a problem for you?
  • If you were a manager, and one of your team were not performing, what would you do?

In Summary

Fire and rescue services have a targeted recruitment process aimed at securing the best firefighters for their forces. However they do not recruit very often, this could be your only chance for a while, so take advantage of it! National guidelines and tests form the main elements of recruitment to most forces, and this article has taken you through this national framework stage by stage. We hope you have found it useful. Good luck!

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