Frequently Asked Questions

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We know that a career in the fire and rescue service is extraordinary, so we have collated some answers to our most frequently asked questions that you may find useful. If you can't find what you're looking for, please speak to the staff on your local station or contact our Human Resources Team on 0115 838 8247.



Q: What do Firefighters actually do apart from putting out fires?

The Service is committed to the prevention of fires, which includes educating the community about fire safety, carrying out home safety checks and visiting schools and community events. Firefighters also deal with many other types of emergencies such as road and rail crashes, floods, chemical spills and rescuing people in trapped lifts.

Q: Do you have to be really strong to be a firefighter?

A common perception is that only big strong men can be firefighters but, in reality, firefighters come in all genders, shapes and sizes. There is no height restriction and you don't have to be exceptionally strong. Of course you do need to have a good level of fitness, as being a firefighter is physically demanding. The equipment can be heavy but, remember, you'll be working in a team!

Q: Why is there a requirement to swim?

Incidents can include water rescue and you will receive training in water rescue techniques. We therefore require applicants to be confident in water and testing for this will form part of the final selection process.

Q: What qualifications do I need?

No qualifications are needed to join #TeamNFRS as a firefighter.

You will, however, be required to pass a number of selection tests prior to joining - these include a literacy and numeracy test - both of which are set at Level 2 (Equivalent to GCSE A-C).

Q: Will I be paid whilst training?

Yes, you will be paid at a trainee firefighter rate. This is currently £22,459 per annum. This rises to £23,394 and then to £29,934 when you become fully competent.

Q: What hours do you work (wholetime)?

The stations are divided into teams, more commonly known as watches, so that there is always the right number of people on duty to respond to an emergency. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescues Service's watches currently work in shifts of two days (7am until 7pm) followed by two nights – (7pm until 7am) - then four days off. The Service currently operates a self-rostering system which is currently being reviewed, along with different ways of crewing.

Q: Is part-time working available (wholetime)?

Yes. Wherever possible, we will try to accomodate part-time working or job-share arrangements for firefighters to support their caring responsibilities. If you would like part-time working to be considered, please indicate this on your application form. Initial training, however, will require you to commit to full-time hours for a period of time.

Q: Can I choose which station I work at (wholetime)?

Firefighters are required to work at any location in Nottinghamshire and will be placed at stations where there are vacancies.  


Q: Are there any age or height limits? 

Height-wise, no, there is no limit anymore. With regards to age, there is no upper limit, however you must be 18 before the start of your firefighter training - which is set to start in September 2018. Applications will be accepted from 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time their training course starts.

Q: Do I have to be a British Citizen?

You can be of any nationality to apply, provided that you have the permanent right to remain without restriction in the UK. EU citizens are automatically eligible to apply.

You will be required to supply evidence of your right to work in the UK during the recruitment process.

Q: How fit do I need to be?

You need to have a good level of upper body strength and cardiovascular fitness to pass our selection tests and, subsequently, the training course. The required levels of strength and fitness can be found on our Yes You Can Fitness page. On this page is also a training programme that you can take should you feel you are not yet at the required levels.

It is important that you maintain your levels of fitness during your firefighting career, and all our stations have personal training instructors and fully equipped gyms to help you with this.

Q: If I fail the bleep test, what will happen?

You are required to be fit to undertake the training and role of a firefighter. You will therefore be expected to achieve a Level 8, Shuttle 7 on the shuttle run / bleep test assessment. If you fail to achieve this you will be withdrawn from the selection process.

Q: I have a disability, can I apply?

This will depend on the nature of your disability, as the role requires standards of physical fitness, endurance and sight and hearing requirements.

If you consider yourself to have a disability then you should contact us to discuss this. You will be asked if you have a disability or impairement as part of the recruitment process and to provide details of any reasonable adjustments that you may require, to allow you to take part in the process and to fulfil the role of a firefighter. Each case will be considered on an individual basis and we will consider whether reasonable adjustments can be made which would allow your application to proceed.

As an equal opportunities employer, being members of Stonewall and the Disability Two Ticks Scheme, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service welcomes applicants regardless of gender, race, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or age.

Q: I have dyslexia, can I have additional time to complete the written test?

You will be asked if you require additional time to complete the written tests. If you answer yes, you will be asked to email us a copy of your dyslexia report and information of the adjustments that you require.

Q: Can I have a second job?

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has a policy on secondary employment. Employees cannot engage in secondary employment without first obtaining written approval. The following considerations will apply to each application:

  • Whether there may be a conflict of interest or potential detriment to the image/good reputation of the Service.
  • Where there is serious risk of injury or illness.
  • Other Health and Safety considerations linked to the secondary employment.
  • The attendance or performance record of the applicant.
  • Any live disciplinary warnings.
  • The sickness absence of the employee.
  • Any employment arrangements which may mean that the employee is working excessive hours.

Q: How often will I get called out (on-call)?

It's hard to say exactly how many times you will be called out, as incidents are unpredictable, however on average you're looking at being paged around 2-3 times a week. 

Q: How much time will I have to spend 'on-call' each week (on-call)?

Retained firefighters must be able to provide 84 hours of on-call cover each week. When on-call, you will be required to carry your pager with you at all times and respond to the station, when required, to crew the fire engine.

Q: Can I apply if I have a criminal record?

You will only be able to apply once your conviction is spent according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However minor driving convictions e.g. speeding offences will not be taken into account. There are certain spent periods for different convictions. Please refer to our Disclosure and Barring Policy which can be found here.

Q: What does the application process consist of?

The application process generally includes the following:

  • Submitting your application form (go on, you know you want to...).
  • A numeracy and literacy skills test.
  • Attending a job related test weekend - which includes our various job related tests and fitness tests.
  • A swimming assessment - 25m.
  • A panel interview.
  • A medical at our Service Headquarters.
  • Disclosure and barring service checks. 

If you pass all of these stages and are offered a job, you will then be invited to a uniform fitting before starting a course at our Service Development Centre in Ollerton. 

It's also important to note that we require two employment references. 

Q: How long does the selection process take?

There is usually a large response to any wholetime campaign; therefore it can take 6 to 12 months to complete the whole selection process from application to offer. With an on-call application - this is usually slightly quicker.

Q: What happens next if I am successful with my initial application?

Once the closing date has passed, you will receive an email from our HR Team. If you have been successful, you will receive a link to the maths and english assessments. Once these have been successfully completed you will be invited to a practical selection test. You will be kept informed throughout the process if you have been successful through the various stages.

Q: What happens next, if I am unsuccessful with my application?

Due to the high volume of interest we receive we regret that it is not possible to inform candidates individually of the results of their application or provide feedback. If you have not received an email inviting you to take part in the assessments, you should assume that your application has not been successful this time. At each stage of the process you will be informed whether or not you have been successful.

Q: Can I choose which station I work at (wholetime)?

Firefighters are required to work at any location in Nottinghamshire and will be placed at stations where there are vacancies.  

Q: I live outside of the Nottinghamshire boundary, can I apply (wholetime)?

Unfortunately not. To keep the application numbers at a manageable level for our recruitment team, only those within Nottinghamshire can apply.

Q: How close do I need to be to my local fire station (on-call)? 

Generally you must either live or work within a five minute drive (at normal road speed) of your closest station to be considered for a role as a retained firefighter. This is because our fire engines need to be able to respond quickly (and safely) to emergency incidents. 

Q: Can I go through the selection process whilst still serving notice in the Armed Forces?

Yes. However, you must be available to undertake the selection tests which will be held on separate dates throughout the recruitment process. This may present a problem if posted overseas. If offered a contract of employment, you must be able to start your training in September 2018.

If you are an ex-member of the armed forces, in order to be able to apply you must have left the forces within the last three years. If you were discharged due to a general discharge as a result of unacceptable behaviour or conduct, or dishonourably discharged, then the armed forces exemption will not apply. As in you will not be eligible to apply under the armed forces criteria.

All armed forces applicants will be required to provide evidence relating to their discharge.

Q: I am unavailable during some of the assessment dates. Can I attend at a different time?

Due to the volume of applications we are unable to offer alternative dates. Applicants must be available on the dates published.

Q: Can I transfer from another Fire and Rescue Service within the UK?

Firefighters from other Services will be required to undertake the full selection process.

Q: Why are you restricting applications to people who live in Nottinghamshire?

We seek to represent the communities we serve in the make-up of our organisation. By employing people from these communities we enhance our Service's knowledge of our areas and the people that live within them. We also contribute towards the economic growth of our communities by providing local jobs for local people.

Please note, however, that this is not a requirement for applicants who are serving or ex-members of the armed forces (who have left within the last three years) and their direct family members. This is also not a requirement of students whose main residency is outside Nottinghamshire but who are studying within Nottinghamshire - with the expectation that they will continue to reside in Nottinghamshire.

Evidence of permanent residency will be sought as part of the selection process. Applicants must permanently reside within the following Borough/District Council areas.

Ashfield District Council; Mansfield District Council; Bassetlaw District Council; Newark & Sherwood District Council; Broxtowe Borough Council; Rushcliffe Borough Council; Gedling Borough Council; Nottingham City Council.


Q: I have a beard for religious reasons; will I have to shave it off in order to be a firefighter?

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service respects everyone's religious beliefs but there are health and safety reasons as to why facial hair can be problematic.

The beard will have to be trimmed or completely removed in order to ensure your safety when wearing breathing apparatus. To ensure that the facemask forms a seal around the face, it is necessary to keep the face shaven to prevent any dangerous airborne chemicals entering the facemask.

Q: My faith requires me to allocate certain times of the day to pray, will this be accomodated?

Yes, but due to the nature of the job there may be times when this is not possible. However, every effort is made to provide appropriate facilities for all employees.

Q: Would I be able to keep my dreadlocks?

Yes - dreadlocks (including braids, cornrows, plaits, etc) like any employee's hair need to be kept tidy and not interfere with your personal protective equipment. These rules help keep firefighters safe.

Q: I wear glasses/have had laser eye surgery, can I apply?

Yes. Part of the recruitment process will include a medical and this will include an eye test. Our Occupational Health and Fitness Manager will determine whether your vision meets the standards required to become a firefighter.

Q: I have tattoos; are there any rules against body art?

Where tattoos are visible, they should be in keeping with the professional image of the Service and not contrary to our values. Employees may be requested to cover tattoos in a public setting where there is likelihood that they may cause offence (image or words).

Q: I have a body piercing; will I be able to wear jewellery whilst on duty?

The wearing of exposed jewellery, due to health and safety reasons, is not permitted.

Q: Are male and female firefighters trained to the same level? Are they paid and promoted equally?

Yes, gender plays no part in the roles that are available. Pay scales are set nationally and are based on whether you are a firefigher in development or are competent in role. Promotions are assessed on ability, regardless of gender, and all firefighters are trained to the same level.

Q: Are there seperate changing and showering facilities for male and female firefighters?


Q: How do I apply?

More information on how to apply can be found here.

Q: Why am I unable to submit my application?

We only officially support Internet Explorer 11. If you are using an older version or a different browser such as Firefox, please use Internet Explorer 11. We also recommend that you don't apply via your mobile phone or table unless you have IE11 installed.

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