Becoming a London firefighter is not easy. London Fire Brigade invites applications only when it actively seeks to increase its numbers. The Brigade's website offers advice to prepare you for application, including entrance requirements, levels of physical and emotional fitness demanded, and the nature of the physical and mental tests.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- U.K. or European Union citizenship
- Full driving license
- Physical strength and stamina
- No fear of heights (acrophobia) or confined spaces (claustrophobia)
- Passing physical and mental tests
Research the implications of working as a London firefighter. According to the London Fire Brigade, their firefighters must be strong, brave and physically fit. They also need excellent people skills in order to be able to communicate effectively with people of all ages and nationalities, many of whom will be in a state of distress. Firefighters also educate the public on fire safety and fire prevention issues, particularly the elderly, children, and people whose first language is not English.
Become aware of the general qualifications for employment: age at least 18 on appointment, U.K. or European Union citizenship, a full U.K. manual-shift driving license, passing demanding physical tests, medical and eye examinations, and having excellent colour vision.
The physical tests require you to climb a 13.5m/45-foot ladder and also drag a dummy weighing 55kg/54.4kg. backwards over a distance of 30m/100 feet within a given time.
You will also have to prove that you have the strength to raise a fire brigade ladder, carry heavy equipment and, after a demonstration from Brigade staff, assemble and disassemble equipment. To test your confidence, agility, and freedom from claustrophobia, you will also be asked to crawl through a confined space wearing breathing apparatus and with your vision deliberately obscured by smoke.
Understand the six-stage application process: initial application, written tests, interview, physical tests, medical checks, and references. Four multiple-choice written tests gauge your ability to understand, retain, and use information. One of these tests specifically judges your number skills, another your observational skills.
Your interview will be conducted by London Fire Brigade staff, who will establish your suitability to become a firefighter by asking you questions about your knowledge, skills, and attributes.
Your medical exam will be conducted by the Brigade's doctor and nurse, who may ask your own family doctor to provide your medical records.
References should cover three years of work or study prior to your application.
Declare any criminal convictions. If these are not "spent" (cleared) according to the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, London Fire Brigade will probably not consider your application. If you're not sure whether your convictions are spent, ask the Brigade for clarification.
Understand that this job requires physical and emotional strength, the ability to work as part of a team, and a willingness to take instructions from others. When an emergency occurs you may have to work as long as it takes to bring the fire or other incident under control. In addition to putting out fires, London firefighters also work in cooperation with other emergency services in dealing with road traffic accidents, chemical spills, and floods.
Tips and warnings
- Regularly check the London Fire Brigade website to see when it is recruiting for new members.
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