Understanding the Firefighter Application Form

If you want to become a firefighter, one item that you can’t get away from is the application form. This is an extensive application form involves many different sections, including:

  • Personal details - This section is a series of questions used for monitoring and isn’t a make or break part of the application.
  • References - Here you have to provide details of your current and previous employers.
  • Values - This typically involves an affirmation that you will abide by the specific values of the fire and rescue service. These are not the same as the Personal Qualities and Attributes, the PQAs, which are assessed separately.
  • Assessment of Personal Qualities and Attributes - This is the main section of the application form. You have to make sure to get this section right if you want your firefighter application to be taken forward.

Each fire service has its own set of rules and regulations so this list is by no means set in stone. However, all firefighter application forms are long and require you to complete many details. This is particularly true for the firefighter assessment of PQAs which is absolutely essential and is on every firefighter application form. 


Answering the Firefighter Assessment of Personal Qualities and Attributes

Let’s remind ourselves of the all-important firefighter PQAs. They are:

  • Working with others
  • Commitment to diversity and integrity
  • Commitment to self-development
  • Confidence and resilience
  • Commitment to excellence
  • Open to change

For each of these firefighter PQAs you have to answer a related question. Let’s go through one example so you’ll understand what you need to do.

Please describe a situation where you have had to work closely with others as part of a team: This could be when at school, work or in a community setting.

  • What was the situation: I noticed that a new girl in my tutor group was having difficulty settling in, unsure of what to do and where to go. The fact that she was struggling and uncomfortable in her new surroundings affected the whole tutor group and caused friction, e.g. she would turn up late for class which would often result in the entire tutor group being kept later by the tutor.
  • What role did you play: I helped her by showing her around, introducing her to the staff and other people. I also showed her where to take lunch, included her in my activities and encouraged my other classmates to include her in group activities.
  • What happened as a result: She quickly settled into the routine and seemed much happier. The atmosphere within our tutor group also improved. A “buddy” system was adopted for new people joining because they saw how much my support had helped her to settle in.

(Taken from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service)

Breaking it Down: Answering the Questions to Impress

As we can see, this answer has been written in the STAR based method of answering questions.

  • Situation: The Situation is clear. It is basic - There was a new girl.
  • Task: When looking at this model answer we see that there were two issues going on here. Firstly she was having problems settling in and furthermore this was impacting the rest of the group.
  • Tip: Try to have a situation where there are multiple problem areas. The bigger the problem that you solved the better, since it shows that you have the ability to view the bigger picture as well as the smaller one.
  • Action: What did you do? Again, here the problem is tackled in two ways. First of all, helping her adjust and secondly, tacking the other members of the group.
  • Result: Here we see the answer being taken to another level. First of all, dealing with both of the issues and then taking it to a new level where something new and helpful for other people not relative to the situation took place. Here however, we can take the answer a little further if true and say that she herself suggested this new system. This shows not only a willingness to help if it affects you, but also a willingness to help others even if it doesn’t have anything to do with you.

Prepare for Becoming a Firefighter

Whilst we are not personal trainers for physical exercise, we are mental trainers for your national firefighter selection tests.