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Recruitment tests and assessments

When you apply to become a firefighter there are some tests and assessments you'll need to pass before you reach the interview stage.

Written assessments

You’ll be given three timed tests with multiple-choice answers. This stage takes about three hours.

  • Working with numbers - you will be asked questions about scenarios which use information from graphs, tables, dials and gauges
  • Understanding information - you will be asked questions about several scenarios which use information in a variety of formats, including fire safety information, memos, newsletters and training course manual extracts
  • Situational awareness and problem solving - you will be given a series of scenarios similar to ones a firefighter would face and asked to choose the answer that most closely describes what you would do in each situation

To help you prepare, download the NFS ability tests practice booklet.

Fitness assessment

The multi stage shuttle run is a test of your cardiovascular fitness and stamina. (It's known as the 'bleep test'.)

You'll be required to run back and forth between two lines 20 metres apart, maintaining the pace set by an audible sound. It will be on a flat surface and the pace increases at one minute intervals throughout the test. The test will end when you reach the required level, or reach a point where you are unable to keep up with the audible signals. Every candidate needs to reach level 8.8.

Physical selection tests

Find out more about the physical selection tests and how to prepare for them in our fit for duty section.

Interview stage

If you pass the written and physical assessments you'll go on to the interview stage. We use competency based interviews, where the focus is on the things you can do. So we'll ask you to give us examples to show you have the skills needed for the job.

Get more advice on how to prepare for your interview from the National Careers Service website.

Medicals and eye tests

As part of the recruitment process you will have a full medical with our occupational health team. You will be expected to declare any health problems.

The medical is to assess your general level of health, including weight, blood pressure and lung function. Our doctor will make an informed medical decision about whether you are fit for firefighting duties. We allow for any reasonable adjustments in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

We may ask for a report from a hospital where you have received treatment or an independent specialist if our doctor requires it. You will need to give us your consent to access those records so that you can complete the selection process.

You will also have a hearing, eyesight and urine test.

The eyesight standards are:

  • Uncorrected distance vision should be 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
  • You should be able to read N12 at 30 cm with both eyes open unaided (near vision)
  • You should have normal binocular field of vision
  • 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. If you fail the screening, you may be given an additional test by one of our preferred opticians

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