FAQ Wholetime

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.

Our latest batch of competent firefighters answer some of your frequently asked questions in this video.


General information about the role

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 trapped in lifts.

Do you have to be really strong to be a firefighter? 
Firefighters come in all genders, shapes and sizes. There is no height restriction, and you don't have to be exceptionally strong, but you do need to be fit as being a firefighter is physically demanding. The equipment can be heavy but remember you'll be working in a team and will be taught techniques for handling equipment safely.

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. 

What qualifications do I need?
You will hold a level 2 qualification in Maths and English (GCSE A*-C or 4-9 or equivalent) You will be required to provide evidence of this if your application is successful.

What does the training consist of?
All new wholetime Firefighter recruits will be registered as apprentices during their development period. 
The apprenticeship will be a combination of practical and theoretical learning at our Training Centre in Ollerton, combined with periods on an operational fire station as part of the Watch. During this time, you will acquire the basic skills and knowledge of being a Firefighter. You will complete all of your “on the job” training, learning about the community and the risks surrounding your station all the time showing competence in the areas learnt during your time at the Training Centre. This usually takes 2 years. At the end of this process, you undertake a final assessment and, if successful, will become a competent Firefighter.

Will I be paid whilst I'm training?
Yes, you will be paid at trainee Firefighter rate which is currently £24,191 per annum. This rises to £25,198 and then to £32,244 when you achieve full competency.

What hours would I work?
The stations are divided into teams or watches so that there is always the right number of people on duty to respond to an emergency. NFRS currently operates a self-rostering system. Generally, Firefighters work on shifts of two days 0700-1900 followed by two nights 1900 - 0700 then four days off. In addition, the Service has some stations that work a day crewing arrangement, 08:00-18:00.  The arrangements for the rostering of staff are set out within a collective agreement 

Is part time working available?
Yes. Wherever possible, we will try to accommodate part-time working or job-share arrangements for Firefighters to support caring responsibilities. If you would like part time working to be considered, please indicate this on your application form. However initial training will require you to commit to full-time hours for a period of time.

Can I choose which station I work at?
Firefighters are required to work at any location in Nottinghamshire and will be placed at Stations where there are vacancies.

Specific information about selection

What is the minimum age you can apply to become a Firefighter?
You must be at least 18 years of age at the start of the training course taking place in April 2021.

What is the maximum age you can apply to become a Firefighter?
There is no maximum age.

Are there any height limits?
No, there are no height limits anymore.

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.

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 page,  Firefighter Recruitment Fitness Guidance and further information is contained in our Medical Guidance. 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.

Can I apply if I am a serving or ex-member of the Armed Forces?
If you are a serving member of the armed forces, 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 by the start of the first course in April.

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 previous 3 years. If you were discharged due to a general discharge as a result of unacceptable behaviour or conduct, or dishonourably discharged the armed forces exemption will not apply i.e. 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.

What happens if I am a part of the armed forces reserve?
The Service has pledged its support for reserve members of the armed forces.  The Service approach to reservists is set out in its policy. You would, however, be expected to complete all your Firefighter training before being released.

Can I go through the selection process whilst serving as a retained Firefighter?
If you achieved competency before the last migration process, there was an expectation that you should apply through that process and therefore are not eligible to apply for this process. If you were not competent at the date the migration process was advertised or have subsequently become competent, you may apply through this process.

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.

Why are you restricting applications to people who live in Nottinghamshire?
We seek to represent the communities we serve in the makeup of our organisation. By employing people from our communities, we enhance our organisations knowledge of our local communities. We also contribute to the economic growth of our communities by providing local jobs for local people. 

Please note that this is not a requirement for applicants who are serving or ex members of the armed forces (who have left the Service within the past 3 years) and their direct family. This is also not a requirement of students whose main residency is outside of Nottinghamshire but who are studying in 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 Boroughs/District Councils:

  • Ashfield District Council
  • Bassetlaw District Council
  • Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Gedling Borough Council
  • Mansfield District Council
  • Newark and Sherwood District Council
  • Rushcliffe Borough Council
  • City of Nottingham
Can I transfer from another Fire and Rescue Service within the UK? 
Firefighters from other services who wish to apply will be required to undertake the full selection process. 

How long does the selection process take?
There is usually a large response to any campaign; therefore, it can take 6 months to complete the whole selection process from application to offer.

What does the recruitment process consist of?
The recruitment process consists of the following elements:

  • Application form check
  • Fitness test (shuttle run)
  • Job related tests
  • Assessment centre consisting of an interview, presentation and team exercise, 
  • Swimming assessment (I length 25 metre pool and able to tread water)
  • Checks to include references, eligibility to work in UK, disclosure and barring check, baseline personnel security standard check (BPSS)

What are the requirements to apply for the role of Firefighter?
In order to apply you will need to:

  • live in the City or County of Nottinghamshire and / or 
  • be a serving member of the armed forces or a direct family relation of a member of the armed forces or have been a member of the armed forces within the last three years and
  • hold a level 2 qualification in Maths and English (GCSE A*-C or 4-9 or equivalent) You will be required to provide evidence of this if your application is successful

If I fail the fitness shuttle run, what will happen?
You are required to be fit to undertake the training and the role of a Firefighter. You will therefore be expected to achieve a level 8, shuttle 7 on the shuttle run. If you fail to achieve this level, you will be withdrawn from the selection process

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. 

For further information please refer to our Disclosure and Baring Policy and Employment of ex-offenders Policy these documents will form part of the recruitment pack. Information is also available at  www.gov.uk/exoffenders-and-employment

I have a disability, can I apply?
This will depend upon the nature of your disability as the role requires standards of physical fitness, endurance and sight and hearing requirements. 
If you consider that you have a disability, then you should contact us to discuss this. You will be asked if you have a disability or impairment 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 Confident Scheme, NFRS welcomes applicants regardless of gender, race, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or age.

How do I apply?
You will be required to apply through the NFRS recruitment portal.  Details will be provided in the advert.

What happens next, if I am successful with my application?
You will be notified on completion as to whether you have been successful or not.  If you are successful at this stage, you will be invited to undertake a fitness test (shuttle run) and if successful through this assessment you will then be invited to the job related tests.  If successful through the job related tests you will be invited to the assessment centre stage.

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. At each stage of the process, you will be notified as to whether or not you have been successful.

General queries

I have body piercing; will I be able to wear jewellery whilst on duty?
The wearing of exposed jewellery, due to health and safety reason is not permitted.

I have a beard for religious reasons; will I have to shave it off in order to be a Firefighter?
NFRS 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.

Would I be able to keep my dreadlocks?
Yes. Dreadlocks (including braids, cornrows, plaits etc.) like any employee's hair, needs to be kept tidy and not interfere with your personal protection firefighting uniform. These rules help keep fire fighters safe.

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 provide the service with a report as to whether your vision meets the standards to become a Firefighter.  All applicants are strongly advised to read the Firefighter Recruitment Fitness Guidance and Medical Guidance for details on the fitness and medical standards (eyesight and hearing) required to enter the Service

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 the values of the Service. Employees may be requested to cover tattoos in a public setting where there is likelihood that they may cause offence (image or words).

My faith requires me to allocate certain times of the day to prayer, will this be accommodated?
Yes, but due to the nature of the job, there may be times when this is just not possible. However, every effort is made to provide appropriate facilities for all employees.

Are Male and Female Firefighters trained to the same level and 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 Firefighter in development or are competent in role. Promotions are assessed on ability regardless of gender and all firefighters are trained to the same level.

Are there separate changing and showering facilities for male and female Firefighters?
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