The fire service is part of the emergency services and has many public sector jobs available
In emergencies, fire fighters rescue and save life and prevent damage to buildings and properties. However the fighting fire role is only one aspect of the work that they carry out. Other emergencies that fire fighters deal with include, aeroplane, car and train crashes, tank spillage, flooding, collapsed buildings and explosions where animals or people would need rescuing.
Fire training and communications are also areas where some fire-fighters specialize in.
Fire safety is promoted through the fire service with educational programmes, and advice on fire protection and prevention for existing properties and newer buildings. It also enforces legal regulations to cut down the risk of injury by fire, for example the prevision of secure routes to escape from burning buildings.
A fire department in a town or city is run by the local authorities in the UK, and they will advertise any fire service jobs. Each local brigade takes up recruitment and are responsible for their own recruitment procedures. The army, ministry of defence, royal air force, royal navy and the British airports authorities all have their separate brigades.
As you will be dealing with members of the public who are distressed after being involved in hazardous situations, you must be able to stay calm in these difficult situations and not panic, and to be practical when dealing with any emergencies and problem solving. As you are part of the emergency services you will always be working closely with the police and ambulance services.
You could be asked to attend a RTA [road traffic accident] and have to cut injured accident victims out of a car, or you could be attending a incident where hazardous materials like chemicals have been discharged. You will almost certainly in your career come across incident of burning building, and sometimes have to fire rescue people from these buildings.
As a fire fighter you will also have to take part in fire safety awareness issues like going in to the community to advise them on fire alarms, smoke detectors and also fire prevention. If you are a fire safety inspector then you will be inspecting properties doing a risk assessment & advising on safety regulations like where to have the emergency exits.
Fire fighters are required to wear heavy equipment and clothes, to be able to operate breathing equipment and also in some circumstances to be able to drive a Fire Engine. One of your tasks will be the maintenance of your equipment, and regular testing of it, to make sure it is in working order.
Training and qualifications
Although you do not need any specific qualifications to become a fire fighter, fire service recruitment is an exhaustive enrolment period. The examination process for a fireman or woman includes written, physical and practical tests that you must pass.
You should have a good general level of secondary education if you wish to become a fire fighter. English science and maths qualifications are handy to have but not essential. To enter the minimum age is 18 and there are also strict requirements for applicants regarding hearing, physical fitness, colour vision and physique.
Any one looking for any fireman jobs must be physically fit, as it is a job where you will be lifting heavy equipment like fire extinguishers and also sometimes people. Training for fire service jobs can take up to 16 weeks. You must be physically fit and also strong, as you will be required to take a physical test [called the National Firefighter Physical Tests] during the application process, before this is done however you will be asked to complete a Medical Screening Form. The tests include tasks like a ladder climb, ladder lift, casualty evacuation and equipment carry.
One of the requirements of any applicants is to complete the National Firefighter Questionnaire which is used to assess any job seekers. There are a total of 127 questions in the questionnaire that need to be filled in.
As a fire fighter you must have excellent vision, as you will be operating sophisticated equipment and going into dangerous environments where the wearing of glasses in not practical. One way to make sure your eyesight is up to the required standard is to have a check done at your local opticians to get the results. You will have to be well trained in medical techniques and have advanced first aid certification.
A fire officer should be practical, able to use their own initiative, courageous, prepared to work as part of a team as well as work shifts. In addition, some scientific understanding is helpful when dealing with some dangerous chemicals. You must be someone who can follow procedures and is disciplined.
Fire service pay
Starting salary for most fire service jobs is at £16,000 on entry, and will start rising at a level of around £21,000 after a four year period. Salaries for officers at a senior division start from £37,623 to £40,584.
Further career information
Related topics that maybe of interest to you:
Links to professionally written CVs and general career advice: