Kent Fire & Rescue Service
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Fitness and practical assessments

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 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
  • 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.

1. 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 full 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.

2. 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

3. Casualty evacuation

Again, this is an assessment of lower and upper body strength. You will be required, in full 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.

4. Working in confined spaces

This is an assessment of confidence, agility and possible claustrophobia whilst working in an enclosed space. You will, in full PPE and wearing a breathing apparatus (BA) facemask, 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.

5. Equipment assembly

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.

6. Equipment carry

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

  • Pick up the hose reel from a fire engine and run with it for 1 length (25 metres) to the cone, then jog back (25 metres) to the start.
  • Pick up 2 coiled 70mm red hoses (13.5 kg each) by the handles and carry them up and down the course for 4 lengths (100 metres), then place 1 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 3 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 4 lengths (100 metres), then place them back down and jog 4 lengths (100 metres) of the course.
  • Finally, pick up and carry the barbell (30 kg), up and down the course for 4 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 8.7)

When the disc is started, it will give a brief explanation of the test leading into a 5 second countdown to the start of the test itself. Thereafter the disc emits a single beep at regular intervals. You should aim to be at the opposite end to the start by the time the first beep sounds. You should then continue running at this speed, being at one end or the other each time there is a beep.

After each minute, the time interval between beeps will decrease, so that the running speed will need to increase. The first running speed is referred to as ‘level 1’, the second speed as ‘level 2’, and so on. Each level lasts approximately 1 minute, and the disc continues up to level 23. The end of each shuttle is denoted by a single beep and the end of each level is denoted by a triple beep and by the commentator on the disc.

It is important to note that the running speeds at the start of the test are very slow. On level 1, you will have 9 seconds in which to run each 20 metre shuttle.

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 disc, 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 3 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 among staff as firefighting is a physically demanding job, and 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.


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

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