Kent Fire & Rescue Service
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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you're thinking about becoming a firefighter you'll probably have a lot of questions. We've answered some of the most common ones below. You can click each question individually, or use the linked section headings to see all questions in that area.

We will update these questions regularly, so please check back frequently.

General questions

Entry criteria

The recruitment process

Medical-related questions

The job role

Current firefighters with other services/brigades

Other questions

General questions

I am looking for a career as a firefighter, if I become an on-call firefighter will this lead to me becoming a wholetime firefighter?

You cannot apply to become a wholetime firefighter until you have achieved a ‘Competency’ rating as an on-call firefighter. Achieving this level can take up to four years as an on-call firefighter.

What if I'm an on-call firefighter working for Kent Fire and Rescue Service, can I apply?

Yes, but you will be expected to complete the entire application process including all assessments.

I am an on-call firefighter working for Kent Fire and Rescue Service. If I am successful in being appointed as a wholetime firefighter, will I need to complete the initial training course?

This will be assessed on a case by case basis, but it is likely that significant parts of the initial training course will require to be undertaken and passed successfully.

Entry criteria

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply and join as a firefighter?

In accordance with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, if an applicant has a conviction or spent convictions and if the nature of the offence is relevant to the job that he or she has applied for, we will seek to review the individual circumstances of the case and may decide to withdraw candidates on this basis.

Can I join the Kent Fire and Rescue Service even though I am an overseas national?

You must be eligible to work in the UK in order to apply and be considered for employment.

Do I need to live in the Kent area to join the Service?

No, you do not need to live in the Kent area to join the Service.

What are the upper and lower age limits for joining as a firefighter?

You have to be 18 years of age before or on the day you apply. There is no upper age limit.

How tall do you need to be to become a firefighter?

There is no minimum height requirement.

How fit do you have to be to become a firefighter?

You do have to be physically fit to be able to pass the practical selection tests and fitness test. Most people who take part in a sport (such as football or tennis) on a regular basis would be fit enough, but the fitter you are the better.

What qualifications do I need to become a firefighter?

No qualifications are required, however, applicants must pass the literacy and numeracy tests as part of the application process.

Do you have literacy standards for firefighters?

You need to have achieved a pass in the literacy test as part of the application process.

Is there a requirement for a driving licence?

A driving licence is desirable but not essential.

Is it ok to have a tattoo or body piercing?

In the interests of health and safety, all piercings must be removed before starting operational duty. Tattoos are acceptable providing they could not be deemed as offensive. Tattoos are automatically unacceptable if they are rude, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic or violent.

The recruitment process

Do you have a policy on diversity and inclusion in recruitment?

We are an equal opportunities employer and have the following accreditations:

  • Stonewall Champion
  • Disability Confident Employer
  • Wellbeing Charter
  • Time For Change
  • Equality Framework for Fire and Rescue Services

In addition, we have internal LGBT and Disability Staff Network Groups.

How do I apply to become a wholetime firefighter?

During any live recruitment phase an active hyperlink will be available on our Wholetime Firefighter page which you should follow to complete the online application.

Can I send you my CV to hold on to?

No, speculative applications or CVs for are not accepted for vacancies. The KFRS application form for a vacancy provides equal opportunity for all applicants.

Will you accept my printed application form at my local fire station?

No, any applications must be submitted via the online application form. Any printed applications received will not be progressed.

What are the entry tests to join Kent Fire and Rescue Service?

  • Online application, including situational judgement test (SJT)
  • Psychometric tests (literacy and numeracy)
  • Assessment selection day which includes role-related practical tests (confined space test, equipment assembly, ladder climb, casualty evacuation, equipment carry, ladder extension simulation, ladder lower/lift simulation, and fitness test), and a competency-based Interview.
  • Medical
  • Pre-employment checks

What fitness tests will be applied?

Applicants will undertake the Chester Walk Test (treadmill test). Please refer to the assessment selection days page of this website for further information.

If I'm unsuccessful at any stage of the testing process can I re-sit?

You have to be successful at each stage of the recruitment process to progress to the next stage. We do not have the facility to allow candidates to re-sit the process.

What if I can't make an assessment date or the training course date?

The dates of assessments and training course dates will be made known at the beginning of the recruitment process. If you are unable to make any of the dates you will not be able to continue with the recruitment process.

What will happen if I forget to attend an assessment date or the training course date?

You will be withdrawn from the recruitment process.

What will happen if I forget to attend an assessment or arrive late to any of the assessments?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we will receive and the strict timetable we will need to follow, we will be unable to re-arrange assessments, therefore you will be withdrawn from the process.

What will happen if I forget to bring photographic ID with me to the assessment stages?

We need to ensure that the person we are assessing is the person that is applying for the role of wholetime firefighter, therefore if you do not bring photographic ID to each stage of the process you will be withdrawn.

What medical grounds could I fail on?

Individual applications are considered on a case by case basis in line with the specific requirements of the role. The Equality Act 2010 requires that reasonable adjustments are considered when a candidate identifies that they have a disability. The service medical adviser will discuss any medical conditions with the applicants prior to making a final decision. Please see the medical-related questions below for further information.

If I am appointed, how long do I have to wait until I begin my training?

We anticipate that we will be able to appoint the 2017 intake in early September. Training would begin immediately.

Can I continue to work in my current job and undertake the wholetime recruitment process?

Yes, you can remain in any current employment throughout the recruitment and selection process, up until you were appointed.

Medical-related questions

I would like to become a firefighter but I wear glasses or have had laser eye surgery, is that a problem?

Laser eye surgery and wearing glasses is not a problem, but we will look at each person’s case, you will need to pass a standard eye test and we may need to send you for an eye check up with our own optician.

I think I am colour blind - is this an issue?

You should have an appropriate level of colour perception. Individuals with either normal colour vision or slightly abnormal green colour vision are suitable for appointment to the fire service. The recommended test procedure uses the Ishihara test as the initial screen, with two additional tests, if the applicant fails the screening, to determine the severity and type of colour vision deficiency.

I struggle sometimes to hear things, will this be an issue?

Firefighting staff need to have a minimum hearing level to be considered 'fit for role', which would normally be H2. Individuals who are below H2 may require a capability assessment before any decisions can be made on fitness for the role. It is unlikely that individuals with hearing below H3 level (with aids if appropriate) would be safe on the fireground. The worse ear is used to grade the individual in their placement with the service.

I have a disability, can I become a firefighter?

Each application will be taken on its own merits and reasonable adjustments to both the role and the selection process will be considered.

What if I have a medical issue?

Decisions relating to whether or not your medical issue will prevent you from becoming a firefighter can only be made following a detailed and individual assessment with occupational health.

What if I have dyslexia?

If you have dyslexia or suspect you may have dyslexia, we are able to put appropriate measures in place to support you through the selection process. You will need to identify this on the application form and should you be shortlisted to the next stage you will be asked to submit an assessment report from an appropriately qualified health or education professional. This assessment report will help us identify how best we can support you, not only at selection stage but potentially throughout your fire service career. You may find it useful to contact the British Dyslexia Association.

What if I have asthma?

Asthma does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a firefighter. However, firefighters are exposed to smoke and other toxicants as part of their job and these are irritating to the lungs and upper respiratory tract and can exacerbate the symptoms of wheezing in firefighters with Asthma. Your condition will be assessed at the medical stage by our Occupational Health Department, after which a decision will be made as to your suitability for the role of firefighter.

Do I have to be fit to apply?

You will need to be fit and maintain your levels of fitness throughout your career as a firefighter. You will be required to undertake a fitness test to determine your aerobic capacity which needs to be 42 VO2 Max. You are also required to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Would somebody’s size affect their application?

No - this is a popular misconception because there used to be restrictions on height, weight and chest expansion. Candidates are expected to pass strength and fitness tests as part of the recruitment process. The tests are at a level that is achievable by men and women of all different sizes and builds.

The job role

What do firefighters actually do, apart from putting fires out?

The emphasis for us in on prevention, which means firefighters helping to educate the community about the importance of fire safety. Therefore working with local communities and local businesses is a large part of a firefighter's work now. Firefighters also deal with many other types of emergency: road/rail/air crashes, floods, chemical spills or rescuing people and animals trapped in other circumstances. They also spend a lot of time training and doing routine activities, such as checking equipment. In fact, most firefighters probably only spend about 5% of their time dealing with fires.

What salary will I receive?

The salary of a firefighter starts at £22,237 per annum for a trainee. The salary then rises to £23,162 whilst a further development stage is carried out. Finally, a competent firefighter will achieve a salary of £29,638 per annum but this will not be achieved for a period of at least 2 years.

Will I have to pay for my uniform?

Uniform is provided free of charge, including any personal protective equipment (PPE).

If I am successful, which fire station will I be posted to?

You could be posted anywhere in Kent and Medway service area.

Can I choose which fire station to work at?

Unfortunately not. We will do our best to place all new employees at a station that doesn’t cause significant inconvenience in terms of travel, etc, but we must take into account where we need to fill vacancies.

What is the training commitment if I am successful?

Our trainee wholetime firefighters attend an initial 14-week training course at Kent Fire and Rescue Service Training Centres. It is an intensive course involving both practical and classroom based sessions. Firefighters learn about community safety issues, the use of breathing apparatus, ladder safety and much more. They do regular study and pass formal assessments on each element of the course.

Being a firefighter means being able to respond to all sorts of challenges and you will be fully trained to meet these needs. The training helps firefighters stay safe while you are helping the people of Kent and Medway. The training is designed to give confidence when doing the job and to develop skills.

What happens after wholetime firefighter training?

After initial training, firefighters are posted to a fire station where they are guided through a programme of on-the-job training until they achieve competence in the role of firefighter.

Training and development is important to Kent Fire and Rescue Service. Throughout their career firefighters will be offered further opportunities for training. It might be learning how to use a new piece of equipment, how to drive one of our vehicles, how to carry out a specialist task, or it might be training for promotion.

Everyone gains qualifications with wide, national recognition which can lead to graduate and post-graduate qualifications.

Are there any career prospects?

Yes, there are opportunities for development and promotion. This could be moving into a specialist area such as fire protection (enforcing legislation in non-domestic premises) or becoming a manager (Crew Manager, Watch Manager, Station Manager, Group Manager, Area Manager).

Will I need to attend medical incidents and provide treatment to people?

Firefighters in KFRS respond to certain medical emergencies in partnership with South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust. 

For example, KFRS resources may be sent to help a person who is in cardiac arrest, where they are nearer than the ambulance service. This is a role for which they are equipped and trained. Firefighters will carry out basic life support using resuscitators, defibrillators and other equipment with the aim of delivering immediate life-saving aid to the person.

Upon the arrival of ambulance service personnel, firefighters will then work with the ambulance service to continue treatment of the individual.

I have other commitments and caring responsibilities. Is it possible to go home in the evenings during the initial training course (ITC)?

It is our preference that all trainee firefighters complete the Initial Training Course on a residential basis. During the Course a number of guest speakers will attend, extra-curricular team building activities will take place during the evenings, which all contribute to the learning and development of the cohort.

While it is preferable that all trainee firefighters undertake these additional activities, we are aware that people may have, for example, caring responsibilities that mean they cannot reside full time on campus, and we will consider each situation individually.

It is important to note, however, that there is an expectation that all trainee firefighters will be fit for service, capable of undertaking any training as required in the working day, and ensure that they can devote the time required to ensure all assessments are achieved and the course completed. In addition, there will be periods of self-study and e-learning that will be expected to be completed outside the normal working day.

During the ITC, the working day may start at around 8am.  It is important to factor any additional travelling time incurred as a result of returning home each day, into the normal working hours for the duration of the course and ensure that this does not impact on individual health and welfare.

How does the new shift pattern work? On a night shift or 24-hour shift, are there sleep facilities?

The shift pattern is called flexible rostering – each employee works their contractual number of shifts over the course of each calendar year (1 January to 31 December) within established defined principles. Each fire station and its crew determine locally by agreement when the shifts are worked.

There are sleep facilities on a night shift; a firefighter is expected to be operationally ready throughout the night shift.

Current firefighters with other services/brigades

What if I'm an on-call firefighter with another fire and rescue service?

You will be expected to complete the entire application process including all assessments.

Will Kent Fire and Rescue Service be accepting any external competent firefighter transfers?

No. We have recently completed a transfer in process, therefore we are not accepting any external transfers as part of this recruitment campaign.

Other questions

Can I have a second job?

We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees can’t have a second job without first obtaining written approval from us.

Are you allowed to drink or smoke?

We have a policy which prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking in all of our premises.

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