Toggle mobile menu visibility

Frequently asked questions about joining the fire service

Here are answers to some of the questions people ask us about applying for a job with the fire service and being a firefighter.

Questions and answers

What qualifications do I need?

As a firefighter you will need to absorb and retain complex information and many of our firefighters will go on to be future managers. Therefore you must have 2 GCSE's grade A* - C (9-4) in maths and English language, or equivalent level 2 qualifications. Find out more about what qualification levels mean (opens new window) on the GOV.UK website.

Do I need to live in Norfolk to apply?

You do not need to live in Norfolk and some of our firefighters travel from other counties to work in our service.

We do not pay relocation costs however, so bear this in mind when you apply.

Do I need to be a British citizen to apply?

No, you can be any nationality as long as you have permanent unrestricted right to live and work in the UK. All candidates are required by law to provide evidence of their legal right to work in the UK.

Is there an age restriction?

You need to be 18 years of age or older at the start of the initial recruitment course. While there is no upper age limit, normal pension age for firefighters is 60.

Is there a height limit?

There is no minimum or maximum height - our firefighters come in all sizes.

Do I have to be fit to apply?

You will need to be fit and maintain your level of fitness throughout your career as a firefighter.

As part of the recruitment process you will take a number of physical tests. You will also need to pass a fitness test to determine your aerobic capacity. (Aerobic capacity means the ability of the heart and lungs to get oxygen to the muscles.)

See our fit for duty page for more information.

Can I apply if I wear glasses or am colour blind?

As long as your eye sight meets the required standard, glasses are not a bar to applying.

If you are not sure if your eyesight meets the required standards we strongly advise you to seek advice from your optician before applying.

The eyesight standards are as follows:

Uncorrected distance vision no worse than 6/18 in the better eye, and 6/24 in the worse eye.

Corrected distance acuity should be at least 6/9 with both eyes open and reach 6/12 in the weaker eye.

Near vision should be able to read N12 at 30 cm with both eyes open unaided.

Have normal binocular field of vision.

Have an appropriate level of colour perception. If you have either normal colour vision or slightly abnormal green colour vision you're still suitable for appointment to the fire service. The recommended test procedure uses the Ishihara test as the initial screen. If you fail the screening we may schedule an additional test at one of our preferred optician.

I have a disability - can I still become a firefighter?

Under the Equality Act 2010 a disability is defined as: 'Anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on her/his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.'

We ask all candidates if they need adjustments to be made as part of the recruitment process and to enable them to be fulfil the role of firefighter. Each case will be considered on an individual basis. We need to consider with you whether a reasonable adjustment can be made to enable you to undertake the role of firefighter.

I have a criminal record - can I apply to be a firefighter?

It depends.

If you have unspent criminal convictions you will have to declare them as part of the application stage.

You will be subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (opens new window), which you will need to read as each offence will be different.

As part of the recruitment process, we will carry out an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This is due to the recent update to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, where employees of fire and rescue authorities were added to the list of exemptions.

A positive disclosure does not necessarily affect an offer of employment; we have procedures in place to ensure all disclosures are approached proportionately, and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need a driving licence?

It would certainly help. You will be required to work in a number of different stations across Norfolk - some of which are not accessible by public transport.

You may also choose to become a large good vehicle (LGV) driver so you can drive our appliances.

Will I need to work shifts?

Yes. Most firefighters work a four day rota - two day shifts, two night shifts followed by four days off. We also operate a day duty system.

The good news is that you'll know what shifts you are working a year in advance.

Do I need to be able to swim?

You will need to be confident in water.

We are often involved in water rescue and we help people leave their homes in the event of flooding. You may need to operate in swift water to a depth of 750mm.

I have a beard - will I have to shave it off?

Unfortunately, yes. Your face must be clean shaven to prevent any dangerous airborne chemicals entering your facemask.

We respect religious needs however, as a firefighter, you will be required to wear a facemask when you are wearing breathing apparatus.

Will it be possible to pray at different times during the day?

If you need to pray as part of your faith we will make every effort to provide a private place for you to do this.

However, there will be times when you are involved in a rescue or other activity that will mean you may need to wait until the incident is finished to pray.

I'm worried about sharing facilities with firefighters of the opposite sex

Not a problem - all our stations have separate facilities for our female and male firefighters.

If I am unsuccessful, can I resit?

You need to be successful at each stage to progress to the next. However this does not mean that you can't apply again when we are next recruiting.

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

The dates of the assessments and the training course have been set and agreed at the beginning of the recruitment process. They are very labour intensive and take huge amounts of planning.

If you are unable to make any of the dates you will not be able to continue with the recruitment process on this occasion.

Share this page

Facebook icon Twitter icon Email icon


Print icon