On-call firefighter

On-call firefighters are not based at a fire station. They carry a pager and respond to emergency incidents using the local station to respond from when this happens.

They receive an annual wage to reflect the time they commit to being available plus additional payments for certain activities. They are expected to undertake and attend training at least once per week.

Apply to become an On-call firefighter

To apply to become an on-call firefighter please check where we're recruiting and complete the online application form for your desired station.    

You may have already visited your local station, if you haven't visited the station yet please still complete the application and someone from the station will contact you. We would encourage you to visit the station you are applying for.

If you are successful in your initial application and your application is being progressed you will be required to undertake an on line literacy assessment. You will be sent the link and information regarding this assessment by the HR Operations team.

Where are we recruiting?

If your local station is any of the ones above and you fit the basic requirements then please click and apply or pop into to the station and speak to the Watch Manager.

Do you really want to be an On-call firefighter?

This is an exciting job that makes a real difference to your community. Once trained you will be fighting fires, helping at road traffic collisions and other rescue operations. You will also maintain, test and clean equipment and kit and help raise awareness of fire and road safety at local events.

Training is an essential part of being a firefighter and we have a continuous training programme to ensure that you can do your job safety.

Pay and hours

Pay will vary according to how many hours you agree to be on-call. You will be required to be available for 50 hours which must include 30 hours of pre-determined times and days.  Remember you aren't actually working for that amount of time, we are paying you to be "available". You can go about your normal life at home or work, but if you get a call to say we need you, you must be able to drop what you are doing and get to the station within five minutes. The activity may vary each week as we can't predict how many fires or road crashes we will need you to attend, but here are some typical examples to give you an idea.

Other benefits include access to the pension scheme, paid leave and access to the Child care voucher scheme, access to Benenden Health Care and an excellent level of training and opportunities for personal development.

Example

Pete's main job is working in a local garage, but he is also a fully-qualified on-call firefighter for Kent Fire and Rescue Service. He lives within five minutes of his local station. We needed firefighters at that station for weekends and early mornings, and this suited Pete too. He has a contract to be on-call at weekends and early mornings (from 5am to 8am before his day job begins).

During these hours he can go about his normal life at home or work, but if he gets a call to say we need him, he must be able to drop what he is doing and get to the station within five minutes. We pay him whether he is called out or not. Of course pay varies according to how many hours staff are contracted to be on-call.

  • Pete has a 60 hours on-call contract, for which he receives £5,850 a year (as a fully qualified on-call firefighter - after having completed his training and development).
  • There is no such thing as a typical week, but during this week Pete spent two hours at his drill night, plus four hours attending incidents and some time undertaking administration and maintenance.
  • So his total for that week was six hours. This will vary from week to week and depending on which station an on-call firefighter works at.
  • It is unusual that Pete gets called out to incidents for more than eight hours during any single month, but when this does happen he receives an extra payment of £12.88 for every hour he works above the eight (more information below).
    • Monday morning - no calls
    • Tuesday morning - no calls
    • Wednesday morning - called out at 6am to the station. Fire engine goes out to deal with a fire in a waste bin in a local park. Back at the station at 7am and home at 8.30am.
    • Thursday night - training (usually 7 to 9pm, but this varies between stations)
    • Friday - no calls
    • Saturday - called out at 11am to assist at a house fire in a nearby town. Two other fire engines from other stations are already at the fire and get it under control quicker than expected, so Pete's station engine is not needed, are turned around before they get to the fire and he is home again by 11.30am.
    • Sunday - at 4pm Pete is called to a road crash. No one is hurt, but his crew assist the distressed car driver until the ambulance crew arrive. They also make sure the road is clear so things can get moving again. He is back at the station by 6pm and home again shortly afterwards.

Contractual pay

  • The maximum contract is typically 60 hours per week (but this can vary).
  • * So for someone on a 60 hour on-call contract, included within your monthly contractual pay is the first 8 hours operational firefighting (operational) activity. Further payments are made for specific additional operational activities above the contractual pay. Any activity undertaken above 8 hours, in the month, is paid in addition to the contractual pay, at the nationally set hourly rate.
  • Variations to the 60 hours per week are paid as pro rata accordingly.
  • When competent you will required to undertake 137 hours per annum for core training activity, payment for this is included in your contractual pay.
  • The on-call contract also includes 52 hours per annum for routines and station administration.
  • On-call firefighters are paid in accordance with the rates set out by the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Service

Initial training

You will receive a payment based on the National Joint Council's (NJC) Local Authorities' Fire Services firefighter trainee hourly rate of pay on confirmation of your completion and attendance of the initial training to include:

  • 2 days induction course
  • 7 hours self study required prior to foundation course
  • 18 hours for guided learning that you will complete with the station between Induction and foundation
  • 10 days foundation training

When the initial training is successfully completed you will be considered to be in development and receive the NJC Development rate of pay as a firefighter.

During your development phase you will be required to attend core training to attain the skills required to be a competent firefighter.  For these training events you will be paid the firefighter development hourly rate.

Am I the right person to become a firefighter?

Being a firefighter is challenging and can involve a number of situations not commonly found in other jobs. Please take a moment to answer these questions before you complete the application form.

Are you prepared to:

  1. Work at height?
  2. Work in enclosed spaces?
  3. Work outdoors?
  4. Get wet during your work?
  5. Get hot/cold while working?
  6. Carry heavy equipment?
  7. Work unsociable hours?
  8. Work in situations where you may see blood, or seriously injured and dead people?
  9. Deal sensitively with people in difficult situations?
  10. Carry out prevention tasks?
  11. Talk to people in the local community about fire safety?
  12. Are you 18 or over at the time of applying?
  13. Are you physically fit?
  14. Can you be operationally ready within five minutes of a station either from home or work location?
  15. Can you work for us at same times/patterns as we have stated we need at that specific station?
  16. Will you be able to commit the time to train? (This may mean occasionally taking leave from your main employment)
  17. Have you discussed your application with your current (primary) employer?
  18. Have you stated whether you will be turning out for your home or your work address?

If you answered no for any of the questions above, we strongly suggest that you think seriously about whether being a firefighter is right for you.

Requirements to be an On-call firefighter

Response criteria

Applicants must provide a substantive home or work location address to respond from. The employer address must be that of your permanent employer, someone to whom you are contracted to work for. You must provide written evidence from this employer that they have agreed to you being able to respond from their address and that they are in agreement that you undertake the duties we require.

You must be operationally ready at the station within five minutes of being called out. For example, 3 to 3.5 minutes travelling to station, 2 minutes to get changed and away.

If your home or work address changes while you are applying to become an on-call firefighter you must inform us immediately. Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) will assess on an individual basis whether or not the applicant meets the response requirement. The decision made by KFRS is final and will result in the application not being taken forward to the next stage of selection. There is no right of appeal in regards to the decision made by KFRS.

Training requirements

If you are successful in your application to be an on-call firefighter, you will embark upon a continuous training process that ensures you are prepared to take an active part in fire service operations at station level.

There are several training courses that you will need to undertake before you can carry out some of the more complex activities that are a part of a firefighter's daily work.

Induction

Once you have been offered and accepted your contract of employment, you will be invited to a 2 day Induction course; this will take place up to 8 weeks before your Foundation Course. The induction is normally held over a weekend (courses are non residential).

You will be required to undertake a programme of e-learning prior to the foundation course. Some of which will be undertaken at your contracted Fire Station. You will receive a payment for time spent on the Induction course, the time allocated to achieve the required learning and the time for attending the foundation course.

Foundation course

The first course after induction that you will attend will last for 10 days and is called the Foundation Module. This may be offered in either two five-weekday blocks in consecutive weeks or over weekends. These courses will be programmed by Service Training Centre.

  • You will need to set aside the time to undertake this training.
  • You will be offered up to two choices of dates (where possible KFRS will publish these dates in advance on the website).
  • Failure to commit to and attend one of the courses offered (unless there are exceptional circumstances determined by HR and a member of the Operational Group Management team), within a suitable time frame may result in the offer of employment being retracted. Where KFRS has cancelled the course, this will not apply.
  • KFRS reserves the right to cancel a course at anytime due to the contingencies of the service, every endeavor will be made to provide as much notice as possible to applicants.

The purpose of the Foundation Module is to ensure that you are safe to act as part of a supervised crew on the fireground. It covers the basics and is an introduction to equipment, terminology and procedures. Following successful completion of this module, you can ride on the back of an appliance and assist in activities that you have been trained to do.

Unsuccessful completion of initial training course

Where a trainee firefighter fails to achieve any element of the initial training (to include; Induction, guided learning and Foundation course). They will be taken in to KFRS's capability procedures, which could result in termination of the contract of employment. These procedures can be provided upon request to the HR Service Delivery Team.

The following are the courses that you will need to undertake before you can take your position as a fully competent firefighter aligned to the on-call shift system. They will all be delivered at a training venue decided by the Service Training Centre:

There is an expectation that you will enroll on the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) Level 2 Certificate programme to gain an understanding of operational matters. Completion of this will be by sitting and passing the IFE exam which is held in March of each year.

Initial Breathing Apparatus (IBA) course

This course teaches you to use Breathing Apparatus (BA) safely in operational situations involving activities in irrespirable atmospheres and fire situations.

First Aid (FA) course

This course teaches you how to provide first aid to casualties who have been injured at incidents that we attend. This will include administering oxygen and the use of defibrillators. This course must be completed before you can attend the RTC course below.

Road Traffic Collision (RTC) course

This course teaches you the techniques needed to resolve incidents where people are trapped in vehicles. It also teaches you how to use the operational RTC equipment safely and effectively.

Throughout your development phase at station, you will be required to complete an electronic development programme that identifies your progress and also key benchmark assessments within your development, which includes assessment days at 6 and 24 months.

Literacy Assessment

Literacy is considered an essential skills for operational staff. The requirement to maintain technical knowledge through reading and understanding of technical bulletins and training manuals is essential in maintaining operational competency. This enables them to maintain their competency and ultimately to be able to work safely in a dangerous environment.

The tests will assess applicant's reading comprehension, understanding technical information. 

We no longer require evidence of formal qualification, professional qualifications and/or literacy certification. The assessments standard is equivalent to a Grade C GCSE equivalent.

If you are unsuccessful in attaining the pass level required we will not accept your application for a further 12 months, as we advise that you take the time to develop your literacy and comprehension skills before re-applying.

Physical tests

You will also be required to undertake Physical Role Related Tests to test your strength, fitness and manual dexterity as well as your level of confidence. if you fail one or more elements of the role related tests you will be offered the opportunity to re-take, no sooner than 8-12 weeks after the initial assessment. If you fail this on your third attempt we will withdraw your application at this time and ask that you re-apply after 12 months.

If you fail the fitness test only; you will afforded the opportunity to re-take this locally, normally at your local fire station. You will be given a further two opportunities to undertake this at the station, but if you fail the second attempt we will withdraw your application at this time and ask that your re-apply after 12 months. 

If you are successful at the previous stages of the selection process, you will be invited to attend the fitness and practical assessments. KFRS is serious about health, safety and wellbeing, therefore before inviting you to participate in any form of physical activity or role related assessment we ask you to take part in a fitness survey. A link to the survey will be emailed to you. The survey will provide advice to you based on the answers you give, so it is in your best interests to answer honestly and take medical advice before attending any of our activities. A form is generated once the survey is completed. Please print the form off, sign and bring it with you on the day you are attending.

We will ask for this completed form from you before you are able to undertake any role related activities. Where you have been advised to seek further medical advice, please speak to your own doctor. Where appropriate please bring an advice note/letter stating that you are fit to undertake the required activities. If any reasonable adjustments have been advised, please contact the Wholetime Recruitment Team, at least one week before the assessments, via the email address wholetime@kent.fire-uk.org or by calling 01622 692121, Ext 2381 in order that these can be discussed with you before the day.

Practical assessments

The practical assessments are designed to assess whether candidates have the ability to carry out the more physical aspects of the role and therefore closely reflect the wide range of physical tasks carried out.

The tests used are as follows:

  • ladder lift/lower simulation
  • ladder extension simulation
  • casualty evacuation
  • working in confined spaces
  • equipment assembly (subject to Covid-19 guidelines)
  • equipment carry

Prior to undertaking the practical assessment, you must complete a medical fitness/indemnity form which will be given to you on the day. You will not be allowed to participate in any practical assessment without a completed form.

Please note: The videos below show both male and female candidates performing each test. There is no difference between the tests.

Ladder lift/lower simulation

This is an assessment of upper and lower body strength and is designed to simulate a standard 10.5m fire service ladder. You will be required, in PPE, to lift a bar 75cm off the ground to a height of 182cm, and back down to the 75cm support level.

The weight of the bar at the lifting point will start at 5kg. The maximum load to be added is 15kg.

This bar can be lifted as many times as wanted at 5kg to prepare for the assessment.

Only one attempt is allowed with the full assessment load of 15kg.

Ladder extension simulation

You will be expected to demonstrate sufficient strength to extend service ladders by successfully completing tests on a rope pull down machine.       

Repeated rope pull test – 28kg - 23 repetitions

Casualty evacuation

Again, this is an assessment of lower and upper body strength. You will be required, in PPE, to drag a 55kg “casualty”, walking backwards (guided by an assessor), around a 30-metre course.

You will have to complete the test within a specific time.

Working in confined spaces

This is an assessment of confidence, agility and possible claustrophobia whilst working in an enclosed space. In PPE and wearing a breathing apparatus (BA) facemask, you will be required to negotiate a measured crawl-way within a set time. Half the route will be with clear vision and the other half with obscured vision. You will be required to perform specific tasks during the assessment.

Full instructions will be given prior to the commencement of the assessment.

You will have to complete the test within a specific time.

Equipment assembly (subject to Covid-19 guidelines)

This is an assessment of manual dexterity. You will be required to assemble and disassemble the KFRS safe access equipment currently held on operational fire appliances.

The assessment and equipment configuration will be fully explained/demonstrated before commencement of the assessment. Visual pictorial aids will be provided for candidates to refer to during assembly and make up.

You will have to complete the test within a specific time.

Equipment carry

This is an assessment of fitness, muscular strength and stamina. Wearing PPE, you will be required to:

  • pick up the hose reel from a fire engine and run with it for one length (25 metres) to the cone, then jog back (25 metres) to the start.
  • pick up two coiled 70mm red hoses (13.5 kg each) by the handles and carry them up and down the course for four lengths (100 metres), then place one back at the start
  • pick up the remaining coiled 70 mm red hose by the centre lugs and carry at chest height down to the cone 25 metres away. Place it down and then jog three lengths (75 metres) to return to the start.
  • pick up and carry the 2.4 metre suction hose (hard hose – 11 kg) and basket strainer (3 kg) for four lengths (100 metres), then place them back down and jog four lengths (100 metres) of the course.
  • finally, pick up and carry the barbell (30 kg) up and down the course for four lengths (100 metres).
  • you will have to complete the test within a specific time.

Fitness assessment

This is an assessment of cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement. Its terms of measurement is VO2 max, which is expressed as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.

The VO2 max requirement for operational firefighting is 42.3 or above.

Kent Fire & Rescue Service now use the Beep Test to assess individuals’ fitness levels.

Beep Test (Required Level 8.8)

The instructor will give you a brief explanation prior the start of the test. The test requires you to run continually between two points (referred to as a 'shuttle'), arriving at each end as a beep sounds. The recorded test starts with a five second countdown, thereafter you will hear a single beep at regular intervals.

The time interval between beeps will decrease, so that the running speed will need to increase. 

You should always place one foot either on or behind the 20 metre mark at the end of each 'shuttle'. If you arrive at the end of the shuttle before the beep sounds, you should turn around and wait for the beep, then resume running and adjust your speed.

You must run for as long as possible, until you can no longer keep up with the speed set by the recording, at which point you should voluntarily withdraw from the test. In some cases the PTI conducting the test may need to withdraw you when it becomes apparent that you are dropping behind the required pace and are unable to meet the marker on three consecutive shuttles.

Observers will make notes of the level and number of shuttles into the level, at which you withdraw from the test. Using the ‘Table of Predicted Maximum Oxygen Uptake Values’, an estimate of maximum oxygen uptake can be obtained and scored.

The fitness standards aim to promote good health and fitness amongst staff as firefighting is a physically demanding job. It is essential that our firefighters have sufficient levels of fitness to enable them to carry out their roles as safely and effectively as possible. This means firefighters need a higher level of fitness than most other jobs.

You may find the apps ‘Physical Fitness V02 beep Test (for Android smartphones)’ and ‘Bleep Test Solo’ (for iOS smartphones) helpful with your preparations for this assessment.

Group/Team Based Exercise

There will be a small number of group or team based exercises built into the practical assessment days. These are designed to assess your behaviours when working together with other people, as this is a crucial part of being a firefighter at KFRS.

Interview

If you pass the initial selection tests and role related tests, you will be invited to an interview, this will be held either at the station you have applied to join or within one of our local Group offices. The purpose of the interview is for you to give us real examples of your experience, provide the opportunity for you to provide your strengths and demonstrate the potential you have to become an on call firefighter.   

If you are unsuccessful from interview, we will withdraw your application and only accept further applications after 12 months.ask that you  

Medical

Once you are through that stage we will need you to undertake a medical. The medical carried out by the Fire and Rescue Service medical adviser to assess your general level of health, including weight, blood pressure and lung function. Candidates will also have a hearing test, an eyesight test.

A report may also be required from a hospital where you have received treatment or an independent specialist if the service medical adviser requires it. Your consent is required to access these records and it is a condition that, for your progression through the selection process, this consent is given as requested.

Occupational health

You will be asked to sign a medical indemnity agreement before undertaking the physical role related tests. This will be confirmed to you in writing.

If you are recommended to go through to the next stage of selection after the role related tests and interview, you will be required have a full medical. You will be asked to complete a full pre-employment health screening questionnaire and attend a full medical. This will be undertaken by the fire and rescue service medical adviser. The purpose of the medical is to assess the general level of health, including weight, blood pressure and lung function. Candidates will also have a hearing test, eyesight test and a urine test.

A report may also be required from a hospital where you have received treatment or an independent specialist if the service medical adviser requires it.

Your consent is required to access these records and it is a condition that, for your progression through the selection process, this consent is given as requested.

Eyesight test

The need for corrective lenses does not preclude employment as long as the following standards are met:

  • Unaided distance vision of 6/9 is currently thought to be a reasonable level as a minimum for safety critical work.
  • Near vision is currently recommended for those under 25 years old as an unaided minimum measurement of N6.
  • Contact lenses are permitted.
  • If you have had laser eye surgery it is currently recommended that entry to the service should be postponed for 12 months following surgery for stabilisation.
  • Defects in colour vision are not a bar to entry, however for each case a vocational test in a fire ground setting is recommended.

It should be noted however that all cases are assessed on an individual basis and advice will be sought from occupational health advisers.

Agreeing on-call hours

We will have advertised the times that we need you at a particular station. This is known as on call availability. As part of the process we will also discuss with you in more detail what availability you have to be on-call for us.  The times you can offer are as important as the hours, and will need to match our requirements. 

Other information you will need to provide

About your primary employer

If you have a main job (known as your primary employment), you will be required to provide details of this employment to us.

Employment with KFRS is regarded as secondary employment. You will be required to provide us details of your employment. Your employer will be asked by us to complete a consent form for you to undertake secondary employment with us. We will share information about any employment with KFRS with your employer on request.

KFRS will identify whether the nature of your primary employment has any potential conflict based on the Authority's obligations relating to working time and driving, health and safety legislation. You must inform your primary employer that you are applying to become an on-call firefighter.

You must consider the rest time between your primary and secondary employment when offering your availability to us.

  • Is your primary job as a full time driver? ie. do you drive a goods vehicle which exceeds 3.5 tonnes or a passenger vehicle which carries more than 9 persons.

If you have answered yes to this question it is important that you seek guidance from your primary employer; where driving is primary to your role this may disqualify you from undertaking secondary employment.

Declaration of criminal offences

If you have a record of offence(s), this will not necessarily disqualify you as all applications are considered strictly on their merits. However, you are required to declare any offence for which the conviction is not yet 'spent' within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Incorporating the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act [Exceptions] 1975 and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 [Exceptions] [Amendment] Order 1986). You are advised to declare any charge that is pending; a subsequent conviction could lead to your dismissal from the Service.

Broadly, the Act provides for anyone who has ever been convicted of a criminal offence and not sentenced to more than 2.5 years in prison to become a 'Rehabilitated Person' at the end of the Rehabilitation period, provided there have been no further convictions. At the end of this period, the conviction is considered 'spent' and thus to be treated as if it never happened.

There is no requirement to disclose 'spent' convictions. However, in some situations applicants will be expected to declare their convictions, even if they are spent. Please contact Human Resources for further details.

These sentences have fixed rehabilitation periods:

Sentence Rehabilitation Period  
  People aged under 18 when convicted People aged 18 or over when convicted
Prison sentences* of 6 months or less     3½ years 7 years
Prison sentences* of more than 6 months to 2½ years     5 years 10 years
Borstal (abolished in 1983)      7 years 7 years
Detention Centres (abolished in 1988)       3 years 3 years
Fines, compensation, community service, combination and curfew orders      2.5 years 5 years
Absolute discharge     6 months 6 months

* Including suspended sentences, youth custody (abolished 1988) and detention in a young offender institution.

Further guidance on the Act can be found in the Home Office Booklet 'A Guide to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974' issued by HM Stationery Office. If you are in any doubt about your declaration, you can get legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, local Law Centre etc.

Note: Should the candidate knowingly provide any particulars given in the answers within the application form that are found to be false within the knowledge of the candidate or should there be any wilful omission or suppression of any material fact, the candidate will, if appointed, be liable to dismissal from Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

Employment Vetting (Enhanced DBS Check)

The Authority has determined that it requires an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Scheme check before it can guarantee employment.  This check will be undertaken in confidence with the applicant before an offer of appointment can be made, but after the selection process has been completed. A disclosure does not automatically exclude a person from being offered employment. 

Driving

If you hold a licence, you must inform us if your licence is endorsed, giving details to the nature of the offence, offence code (Examples: CD10 Driving without due care and attention, DR10 Drinking and driving) and also give details of the penalty (Example: £100 fine and number of penalty points and if you had to attend court, give details of outcome. Please see Rehabilitation Period on page 8. If you are successful with your application to join the Service you will be required to submit a copy of your license to Human Resources when requested.

Reference

You are asked to supply two employment references from your current or last employer where applicable.

  • The reference's supplied should not be anyone that is related to you or resides with you.
  • If you are still in full/part-time education, you should give the name of your College / University tutor to whom reference can be made.
  • If you have never been in employment, then the names of a referee who knows you in some capacity may be substituted for that of your employer. e.g. volunteer co-coordinator, sports coach etc.

You should contact your referee to verify that they are willing to provide you a reference prior to submitting their name. Note: Serving Police Officers cannot give you a reference.

Work Permit (Asylum and Immigration Act 1996)

The Service is required by law to ensure that any persons it employs has the right or permission to reside or work in the United Kingdom. Any person to be offered employment will be required to produce relevant original documentation when requested.

Documentation

Failure to provide any of the documentation within the timescales set out within the selection process may result in your application not being taken forward. This includes references, employer authorisation, qualification evidence, availability and right to work documentation, DBS administration.

How to improve your physical fitness

Improving your physical fitness will require some self-discipline and efficient use of your spare time, as an effective exercise routine needs to be completed on a regular basis.

In order to improve your physical fitness you will need to alter the frequency, intensity, and duration of your exercise above your current level. Your training should be gradual and progressive. You should start small and then build up the intensity over time. This will produce an improvement in your fitness by placing greater demands on your body. In general, the less exercise you perform the less improvement, and the more exercise you perform the greater the fitness improvement.

Whilst certain exercises are more specific to fire-fighting tasks, a well-rounded training programme, which includes aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises, is recommended. This will improve and maintain the muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility of the major muscle groups.

Although age in itself is not a limiting factor to fitness training, it is sensible for older people to follow a more gradual approach.

General exercise guidance

Good exercise training advice is highly specific to the individual. It should be understood, therefore, that the advice provided here can only be general.

If you require further information, you are advised to seek individual advice, specific to your needs, from a qualified fitness professional.

The role of a firefighter can be physically demanding. Firefighters are required to be aerobically fit, have good all-round body strength and stamina. As a result, the entry selection tests are designed to reflect the actual physical tasks that Firefighters are required to perform.

Safety points

If you are in any doubt about your health or physical ability to exercise, consult your doctor before you commence physical activity. This is especially important if you are pregnant (or think you may be), have not exercised for the last six-months or had a recent illness or injury.

Always warm up before commencing any exercise. Wear the correct clothing and footwear; do not train if you are unwell or injured.

Preparing for exercise (warm-up)

Performing a warm-up prepares the body for the activity about to be undertaken. The length of time needed to warm up correctly depends on many factors; however, you should allow at least 10 minutes for this very important activity. In order to reduce the risk of injury in the warm-up period, a number of steps should be followed:

  • Be specific: Make sure your warm-up session is geared towards the activity that you intend to perform. For example, for cardiovascular workouts, such as running, start with a brisk walk leading into a light jog. For weight training, it is important to warm up the particular joints and muscles that are involved in the resistance exercise. This will increase blood flow to those muscles and activate the nervous system, prior to any additional stress being placed on them.
  • Start slowly: At the start of your workout your muscles will be relatively cold. Start exercising slowly and build up the intensity throughout the warm-up period. This will increase your muscle temperature steadily and keep the risk of injury to a minimum.
  • Keep warm: If you are exercising in a cold environment, wear additional clothing during the warm-up period and try not to stand still for too long.
  • Stretching: For many years it was thought that stretching immediately prior to exercise would prevent injuries. However, new research suggests that this may not prevent muscle or tendon injury. Any form of flexibility or stretching activity should be performed following a warm-up period or an exercise session.
Aerobic training

Depending on your current level of aerobic fitness standard, follow these guidelines to improve your aerobic fitness.

  • Frequency of training: 3 to 5 days per week
  • Intensity of training: 55 to 90% of your Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (PMHR)

Calculating your Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

A heart rate monitor is a useful tool to check that you train at the right intensity.

If you have access to a heart rate monitor you can calculate your desired training intensity by using the following equation.

Heart rate percentage of 55-90% of your Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (PMHR) is calculated by:

220 minus your age = your Predicted Maximum Heart Rate
Predicted Maximum Heart Rate x 0.7 = 70% PMHR
Predicted Maximum Heart Rate x 0.8 = 80% PMHR and so on.

Or, you can use the Rating of Perceived Effort (RPE) scale:

Level 10-17 on your RPE scale

  • Level 6: 20 percent effort - rest
  • Level 7: 30 percent effort - very, very light
  • Level 8: 40 percent effort
  • Level 9: 50 percent effort - very light - gentle walking
  • Level 10: 55 percent effort
  • Level 11: 60 percent effort - fairly light
  • Level 12: 65 percent effort
  • Level 13: 70 percent effort - moderately hard - steady pace
  • Level 14: 75 percent effort
  • Level 15: 80 percent effort - hard
  • Level 16: 85 percent effort
  • Level 17: 90 percent effort - very hard
  • Level 18: 95 percent effort
  • Level 19: 100 percent effort - very, very hard
  • Level 20: Exhaustion

Duration of training

20 to 60 min of continuous or intermittent aerobic activity (minimum of 10 minute bouts) accumulated throughout the day.

The duration is dependent on the intensity of the activity; thus, those exercising at higher levels of intensity should train for at least 20 minutes, and for those exercising at a lower intensity activity should be conducted over a longer period of time – at least 30 minutes.

Type of activity

Any activity that uses large muscle groups, which can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmical and aerobic in nature, e.g., walking-hiking, running-jogging, cycling, cross-country skiing, aerobic dance/group exercise, rope skipping, rowing, stair climbing, swimming, skating, and various endurance game activities or combination thereof.

To maximize the efficiency of your training you should focus on exercises that are similar to those in the entry tests. These include running-jogging, stepping, stair climbing and other weight bearing activities.

Resistance training

In order to improve your strength and/or muscular endurance you will need to exercise against a resistance. This resistance can be your body weight (for example a press-up) or may involve the use of specifically designed equipment such as dumbbells, barbells or resistance machines.

Resistance training should be progressive in nature, individualised, and provide sufficient stimulus to all the major muscle groups to develop and maintain muscular strength and endurance. You should follow the subsequent guidelines to improve your muscular strength and endurance.

  • Frequency: 2 to 3 days per week.
  • Exercises: At least one set of 8 to 15 repetitions of 8 to 10 exercises that condition the major muscle groups of the body. Multiple set regimens may provide greater benefits if time allows.

Training tips

The effect of exercise training is specific to the area of the body being trained. For example, training the legs will have little or no effect on the arms, shoulders, and trunk muscles. Therefore a whole body approach should be adopted.

Muscles should also be worked in balance and the following exercises are recommended:

Chest press, seated row, shoulder press, lateral pull down, squats, lunges, step-ups, abdominal crunch, back extensions.

Rest: If performing multiple sets, adequate rest should be given to allow the muscles to recover before performing another 'set'.

NB You should not perform the same resistance exercise on consecutive days. At least 24 hours rest should be allowed before repeating the exercise.

Weights exercises

Chest press

  • Whilst lying flat on the bench with feet planted firmly on the floor either side of the bench with your arms extended.
  • Slowly lower the weight to chest level. Push the weight back to the start position.

Tips: Ensure your back is flat on the bench and not arched. Perform slowly and in control.

Seated row

From a seated position, with arms extended in front of the body and knees slightly flexed, draw the hands into the abdominal area squeezing the shoulder blades together.

Tips: Look straight ahead and maintain the natural curve of the spine. Keep elbows tucked close to the body throughout the movement.

Shoulder press

  • From an upright position, with dumbbells overhead, slowly lower the weight to shoulder level.
  • Push the weight back up to the start position.

Tips: Ensure the back is flat on the bench. Perform slowly and in control. Look straight ahead.

Lateral pulldown

  • From a seated position, grasp the overhead bar just wider than shoulder width.
  • Lean back slightly and draw the elbows in towards the side of the body so that the bar rests at the top of the chest.

Tips: Do not swing during the exercise.

Squat

  • From a standing position with feet between hip and shoulder width apart, bend at the knees and flex at the hip until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Push through the heels to return to the standing position.

Tips: Ensure that the knees are aligned with the feet and do not pass beyond the toes.

Lunge

  • From a split leg position, with one foot in front of the other, lower the back knee towards the floor so that the front thigh is almost parallel with the ground.
  • Push off the front leg to return to the start position.

Tips: Look straight ahead. Ensure the front knee is aligned with the foot and does not pass beyond the toes.

Abdominal crunch

  • Lie face up on a soft surface, bend knees and bring feet close to the buttocks.
  • Fold your arms across your chest, or place hands lightly behind the head.
  • Draw your belly button towards your spine by contracting your lower abdominal muscles.
  • Whilst holding this contraction with normal breathing, slowly raise your shoulders towards your thighs while keeping the lower back on the floor.

Tips: Lower your shoulders and upper body slowly and with control.

Back extension

  • Lie on your stomach on a mat.
  • Place hands lightly at the side of your head.
  • Raise your head and shoulders off the mat as high as comfortably possible.
  • Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
  • Lower the head and shoulders.

Tips: Do not tense your shoulder muscle

Flexibility training

Flexibility exercises should be incorporated into the overall fitness programme sufficient to develop and/or maintain your range of motion.

These exercises may also reduce the likelihood of injury, reduce muscle soreness following exercise and may enhance muscular performance. These exercises should stretch the major muscle groups of the body. There are a number of forms of stretching techniques. However those without specific up-to-date knowledge in this area are advised to adhere to the following guidelines.

Frequency: 2 to 3 days per week.
Duration: hold the stretch 1 to 3 times in a static or still position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Recommended exercises

Triceps and upper back stretch

  • Sit or stand upright with one arm flexed, raised overhead with elbow next to your ear, and your hand resting on your opposite shoulder blade.
  • Grasp your elbow with the opposite hand.
  • Inhale and pull your elbow behind your head.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in the back of the arm.

Rear deltoid and upper back stretch

  • Sit or stand with one arm straight.
  • With the other hand grasp the elbow of the straight arm.
  • Inhale and pull the elbow across the chest and in towards the body.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in the back of the shoulder and upper back.

Pectoral and upper back Stretch

  • Kneel on the floor facing a bench or chair.
  • Extend your arms above your head with your hands side by side and bend forward to rest your hands on the bench or chair with your head in its natural position.
  • Exhale and let your head and chest sink towards the floor.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in your chest and upper back.

Quadriceps stretch

  • Stand upright with one hand against a surface for balance and support.
  • Flex the opposite knee to the hand that is outstretched and raise your heel to your buttocks.
  • Slightly flex the supporting leg.
  • Exhale, reach behind, and grasp your raised foot with the other hand.
  • Inhale, and pull your heel towards your buttocks.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in the top of the thigh.

Hamstring stretch

  • Sit upright on the floor with both legs straight.
  • Flex one knee and slide the heel until it touches the inner side of the opposite thigh.
  • Lower the outer side of the thigh and calf of the bent leg onto the floor.
  • Exhale, and while keeping the extended leg straight, bend at the hip and lower your extended upper torso from the hips towards the extended thigh.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in the back of the thigh.

Adductor stretch

  • Sit upright on the floor with your legs flexed and straddled and feet flat against one another.
  • Grasp your feet or ankles and pull them as close to your groin as possible.
  • Exhale, rest your elbows on your knees, pushing them down towards the floor.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in the inside of the thighs.

Calf stretch

  • Stand upright slightly more than an arms length from a wall.
  • Bend one leg forward and keep the opposite leg straight.
  • Keep the heel of your rear foot down, sole flat on the floor and feet pointing straight forward.
  • Exhale, and flex your forward knee toward the wall
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • After 10 to 15 seconds slightly flex the knee of the back leg keeping the heel of the foot down.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in the back of the lower leg.

Buttocks and hip stretch

  • Lie flat on your back with one leg crossed over the knee of the straight leg.
  • Inhale, flexing the uncrossed leg off of the floor in towards the body ensuring that your head shoulders and back remain on the floor.
  • Hold the stretch and relax.
  • You should feel the stretch in your bum and back.
Suggested physical training programme

The following programme is 8 weeks long and is an example of how you could go about training to pass the selection tests. It consists of 3 running sessions, 2 weights sessions and 2 flexibility sessions per week. The programme starts relatively easy and gets progressively harder. You should alternate between your running and weight sessions so that you do not perform the same training on consecutive days e.g.

  1. Mon - steady run
  2. Tue - weights
  3. Wed - Fartlek
  4. Thu - flexibility
  5. Fri - steady run
  6. Sat - weights
  7. Sun - flexibility

If you miss an exercise session, do not attempt to do two sessions in one day to make up. If you are unwell or injured then do not train until you have fully recovered.

Make sure you have read and understood the programme before you start training.

About the programme

Below is an explanation of all the sessions included in the programme.

  • Steady pace running: This should be performed at a comfortable pace i.e. you should be able to hold a conversation throughout your run. This type of exercise will increase your aerobic fitness. This is included 2 times per week in the programme.
  • Fartlek training: This type of running involves changing pace throughout the session. A steady pace of running should be interspersed with faster running, sprints, jogging, uphill running and walking. The aim of the session is to work continuously for about 20 minutes using the various speeds of running whenever you feel like it. There is no set order to this session, however you should begin with about 5 minutes of steady running before you do any faster running. This session will increase your aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Note: Where possible you should run on grass or trails, try to avoid road running. This will reduce the stress placed on the joints of the body.
  • Resistance training (weights): These sessions will target all the major muscle groups and will help to improve your muscular strength and endurance.
  • Flexibility training: This is to help improve or maintain your range of motion. These exercises may also reduce the likelihood of injury, reduce muscle soreness following exercise and may enhance muscular performance.

Information for employers

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has 56 fire stations across Kent and Medway. On-call firefighters work from 49 of these fire stations, so they are crucial to the way KFRS provides its service.

On-call firefighters do all sorts of jobs and yet are also skilled firefighters offering cover when needed. The role of an on-call firefighter requires determination, courage and commitment but most importantly a desire to serve their community.

Protect and save

How does this impact you and your business?

On-call firefighters agree to be available for a certain number of hours per week and carry a pocket alerter, they must be able to get to the fire station in around five minutes.

They would normally respond to two or three incidents a week. It’s difficult to say how long they may have to be out on a call as it depends on the incident, but most crews are back at their stations within an hour.

Key benefits

During their training, On-call firefighters learn many different skills which make them knowledgeable and flexible people in any workplace:

  • Transferable skills – teamwork, communication, responsibility, crisis management, fitness and more.
  • Trained in first aid – which can also contribute to legal obligations for first aid cover.
  • Wellbeing, safeguarding and mental health awareness. Large goods vehicle training.
  • IOSH Working Safely training, access to IOSH Managing Safely. Trained in manual handling.
  • Motivated and committed staff. Good local reputation and corporate social responsibility.

We understand the inconvenience of an employee having to rush off at any moment, and that they could be away for a period of time, however there are many benefits and you as an employer will have the satisfaction that you could really be making a difference.

The fire service recognises that on-call staff sometimes take time away from their normal work to undertake training, for this reason as much of the basic training as possible is undertaken on the stations during drill nights and during weekends. However, the initial training may take up to 30 week days during the first two years of service, which will only be successful with the full support of the On-call firefighter, the station and the employer.

Frequently asked questions

My business is often on-call for business. How would this work?

As their primary employer you would always get priority. We are always on hand to offer employers advice and support where we can. We recognise the importance of the support you lend your local crews and communities.

Supposing my employee is out all night and is unfit for work the next day?

Prolonged incidents do of course occur, but crews are rotated so it is not usual for a crew to be out all night long. However it is recognised that extended periods of exertion can lead to accidents through tiredness and lack of concentration.

How will I know how long they will be out for?

There are phones on the appliance and crew members are encouraged to call their employers with an estimated time of return – if however, they are out on a false alarm, they could be back within 20 minutes.

What if my employee gets injured while at an incident?

All firefighters are trained to a high standard and so injuries on incidents are rare. However should this happen we have policies in place for compensating the employee for any loss of earnings after Statutory Sick Pay.

We are always on hand to offer employers advice and support where we can. We recognise the importance of the support you lend your local crews and communities.