Kent Fire & Rescue Service
Home > Jobs > Wholetime firefighter > Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you are thinking about becoming a firefighter you will probably have a lot of questions. We have 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 oncall firefighter will this lead to me becoming a wholetime firefighter?

There are opportunities for on call firefighters to apply for wholetime firefighter roles however there is a further recruitment process that you would need to go through.

What if I am an oncall 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 oncall 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 need 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 you have a conviction or spent convictions and the nature of the offence is relevant to the job that you have applied for, we will seek to review the individual circumstances of the case and may decide to withdraw you from the process. You must disclose all previous convictions whether they are spent or unspent.

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 at the time of application in order to apply and be considered for employment.

Do I need to live in Kent to join the service?

No, you do not need to live in Kent 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 or maximum height requirement.

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

You need to have a good level of physical fitness to meet the required standard for the role and to be able to pass the practical and fitness assessments.  The VO2 max requirement for operational firefighting is 42.3 or above.

What qualifications do I need to become a firefighter?

No qualifications are required, however, you will be asked to complete two online assessments as part of the application process. These will include an assessment that relates to the role of a firefighter and a verbal ability assessment. 

Do you have literacy and numeracy standards for firefighters?

You will be asked to complete a verbal ability assessment as part of the application process. We do not assess numeracy skills as part of the 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 Diversity Champion
  • Disability Confident Employer
  • Wellbeing Charter 
  • 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?

In order to apply you must first register your interest.  If you do not register your interest you will not be able to apply. A registration link will be made available on our website from 1000 hours on Monday 4th May 2020.  For full details please view our website to see what you need to do. 

Registration will close on Sunday 17th May 2020 at 1700 hours or when no further spaces are available.  Places will be limited. If you register you will be invited to complete an online application form during week commencing 18th May 2020.  You will have 72 hours to complete the form.

Can I send you my CV to hold on to?

No, speculative applications or CVs 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
  • Psychometric tests (an online assessment that relates to the role of a firefighter and a verbal ability assessment)
  • Fitness and practical assessments
  • Multiple mini interviews
  • Validation of online assessments
  • Medical
  • Pre-employment checks

What fitness tests will be applied?

We now use the beep test to assess individuals’ fitness levels.  Applicants must reach the required level of 8.7.

If I am 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 applicants to re-sit any part of the process. However, if you are unsuccessful this will not prevent you from applying again in the future.

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

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 that you are asked to attend then you will not be able to continue with the recruitment process.

What will happen if I forget to attend an assessment or arrive late?

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 when you are asked to do so you will be withdrawn from the process.

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 an applicant identifies that they have a disability. The service's medical adviser will discuss any medical conditions with an 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?

The training course is due to commence on 1 February 2021.

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.

Medical-related questions

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

During the selection process, as part of the medical, there will be a clinical examination of your eyes. The need for corrective lenses will not stop you getting a job with us 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.
  • Soft contact lenses (silicon hydrogen lenses) only are permitted and are considered safe for use on the fire ground. 
  • 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.
  • All cases are assessed on an individual basis and advice will be sought from our occupational health advisors.

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 an additional assessment, if you fail the screening, to determine the severity and type of colour vision deficiency.

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

Firefighters 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 fire ground. The worse ear is used to grade the individual in their placement with the service. A clinical assessment is conducted at the medical stage.

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 our occupational health provider.

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. At the different stages of the process we will ask you to contact us to confirm what, if any, support you require.

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, which 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, 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 assessment to determine your cardiovascular fitness, which needs to be 42.3 VO2 Max or above.

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. Applicants are expected to pass strength and fitness assessments as part of the recruitment process. The assessments 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 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 £23,366 per annum for a trainee. It then rises to £24,339 after successful completion of the initial training course. Finally, a firefighter will achieve a salary of £31,144 per annum after a period of 12 months.

Will I have to pay for my uniform?

Uniform is provided free of charge, including any personal protective equipment (PPE). You will be measured for this as part of the process and it will be given to you on your first day.

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

You could be posted anywhere in Kent.

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 initial training is provided if I am successful and is it residential?

Our trainee wholetime firefighters attend an initial three-week training course at one of our training venues. It is non-residential, therefore trainees will be required to travel to the venues on a daily basis. It is an intensive course involving both practical and classroom based sessions. The training will equip you with the core skills of working with pumps, ladders, hose and introduction to a firefighter’s role.

Being a firefighter means being able to respond to all sorts of challenges and they are fully trained to meet these needs. The training helps firefighters stay safe while helping the people of Kent.

What happens after my initial wholetime firefighter training?

After the initial three-week course you will join a fire station to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that you have learnt during this period of training. The cycle of training at one of the training venues and returning to station to practice and develop skills will continue through the first 20 weeks of a two-year probation.

You will receive progressive training and development throughout the first two years of your employment. Progress will be monitored, assessed and evidenced to ensure that you acquire the practical skills, knowledge and understanding required to successfully and safely operate as a firefighter.

To become competent in role you will undergo thorough and intense training. The training is designed to equip you with the technical knowledge, technical skills, behaviours, personal qualities and attributes, which gives you the confidence to do the job and develop yourself further.

Applicants who are successful with their application will need to work hard, study regularly and pass formal assessments.

Training and development is important to us. Throughout your career you 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 and we value our people and encourage it. There are wide-ranging opportunities for career progression across the service including going into management.

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

Firefighters respond to certain medical emergencies. For example, our 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. 

How does the shift pattern work?

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.

You will be required to work days, nights, weekends and public holidays.

Current firefighters with other services/brigades

Can I apply if I am an oncall firefighter with another fire and rescue service?

We welcome all applications. You will be expected to complete the full application process including all assessments.

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

No, over the last year we have completed a transfer in process, therefore we are not accepting any external transfers as part of this recruitment campaign. We welcome applications, however all applicants will need to complete the full application process including all assessments.

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 at work?

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

Connect with us
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • YouTube icon
  • Flickr icon
  • GovDelivery icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • YouTube icon
  • Flickr icon
  • GovDelivery icon
  • Instagram icon