Wholetime Firefighter Recruitment - Recruitment Process

As a Firefighter with Cumbria County Council Fire and Rescue Service, you will be able to demonstrate operational excellence, personal accountability and a commitment to your own development. You will have unique problem solving skills, a flexible approach and demonstrate the personal qualities expected of a professional Firefighter.

Our online recruitment process is designed to make an initial assessment of your potential to work as a Firefighter using a range of specifically designed questions which examine the qualities and basic knowledge required for the role. Firefighter recruitment is always a competitive process, with an extremely high number of applicants competing for a low number of positions; therefore it will be necessary to only take the highest performing individuals at each stage of the selection process to progress to the next level.

While completing your application it is essential that you read each question carefully to ensure that you are responding exactly as you would like. You should also ensure that you answer all questions before submitting your response. Failure to answer all questions may result in your application being unsuccessful.

You should ensure that you have read all of the available information on our website and recruitment micro site in relation to the role of a Firefighter, the recruitment process and the eligibility criteria for these positions.

You can complete your application in stages but once you have started a stage you will need to complete it in one session and only your first attempt on any assessments will be considered.

The initial stages of the recruitment process are all undertaken online, there is no application form to complete and return.

Please note - Successful applicants will require a basic DBS check, this will be carried out as part of the pre-employment checks.

This is not a first come first served process. The recruitment process will open at 10.00 on Monday 1 October and close at 10.00 on Friday 12 October 2018, irrespective of the number of applications coming through. Any incomplete applications at this point will be lost.

The following information is designed to give you an indication of the recruitment process for wholetime firefighters, what to expect and what is required of you. The recruitment process is a staged process and should you be successful you will be assessed over the period of three months.

PLEASE NOTE: You will need to have your National Insurance number available to be able to register as well as your correct e-mail address.  It is important you check that you input your correct e-mail address, as the system will communicate with you using the e-mail address that you provide during the registration.  If you provide an incorrect e-mail address, the system will be unable to provide you with relevant information regarding your application.  If you do not complete the Online Registration, you will not be able to access the subsequent elements and progress within the recruitment process. You will only be able to register with us once during this recruitment campaign so please ensure the details you give are correct as you will be unable to amend them after they have been submitted and your application would be terminated at this point. If you have been invited to complete any of the below assessments, it must be done within the deadline given, or your application will not be considered any further. Please be aware that emails are only replied to during working hours 09:00 - 17:30, Monday to Friday.  

The online registration process will open on 1 October 2018 at 10am, you should allow approximately 30 minutes to complete the below three elements. 

Within the online registration process you will be required to complete: 

  • Candidate Registration, where you register your details 
  • Realistic Job Preview, here you are presented with 11 scenarios 
  • Eligibility Screen, here you must answer basic questions to see whether you are eligible to apply:
  • Whether you are over the age of 17 years and 6 months
  • Whether you have the right to work in the UK
  • Whether you have any unspent criminal convictions
  • Whether you have any court judgements outstanding against you
  • Whether you wear glasses or contact lenses

Once you have completed the online registration and eligibility screen, you will receive an e-mail from our online system 'Apollo' advising you of how you can log back into the system when you are invited to complete the online assessments. Please check your inbox and Junk Mail box for emails from Apollo Online Assessment.

The next stage of the process is the Behavioural Styles Questionnaire (BSQ) and should you be eligible with your application, you will be invited to complete this on 12 October 2018 at 2pm. Please note the deadline to complete this assessment will be 15 October at 10am If you are unable to complete this assessment within this time period, we will not be able to consider your application any further. This assessment is not timed, you should allow approximately 15-20 minutes to complete this in a quiet location.  This assessment explores your preferred behaviours in a working environment. No revision or additional study is required for this element. 

Should you successfully pass the Behavioural Styles Questionnaire (BSQ) you will be invited to complete the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) on 16 October 2018 at 10:00. The deadline to complete this online assessment will be 18 October at 10am. If you are unable to complete this assessment within this time period, we will not be able to consider your application any further. This assessment is not timed. You should allow approximately 30 minutes to complete this assessment in a quiet location. The Situational Judgement Test measures your judgement and decision making skills in situations that are typical in the Fire and Rescue Service.  No knowledge or experience as a Firefighter is required to complete this test and no prior revision is needed.

If you meet the requirements of the above online assessments, you will be invited to complete the Ability Tests on the 19 October at 10am. The deadline for this assessment is 22 October at 10am. These assessments are timed and it is advised you complete them in a quiet location. This stage involves completing a series of tests which are detailed below:

Numerical Reasoning

This test measures your ability to understand, interpret and logically evaluate numerical information.  You will be presented with graphs, charts and numerical details and required to make calculations on the information presented. There are 18 questions within this assessment are you will have 18 minutes to complete this.

Mechanical Reasoning

This test measures your ability to apply general mechanical principles that supports practical problem solving.  You will be presented with a series of diagrams and asked to answer questions to demonstrate your understanding of the mechanical principles applicable. There are 20 questions within this assessment and it has a maximum time limit of 17 minutes.

Verbal Reasoning

This test measures your ability to understand and interpret written information. You will be presented with a passage of text and asked to answer questions to demonstrate your ability to interpret and analyse verbal information. There are 20 questions and you will have a maximum time limit of 15 minutes. 


If you wish to complete the process in one go it will take approximately 3 hours. Throughout the online process there will be clear instructions which will continually be repeated.

We will email you if you have been successful and you will be invited to the next stage of the process. If you have not received an email by Wednesday 31 October then you will not have been shortlisted for the next stage in the process.

If you are successful at the Ability Tests then you may be required to sit verification assessments later on in the process. 

Please note that CVs or any other form of application will not be required or accepted. 

In the unlikely event that you encounter any technical/log in issues for any of the online assessments it is essential to let us know prior to that stage of the assessment closing to ffresponse@fireservicecollege.ac.uk Failure to do so will terminate your application process.


Once you have passed the online application process we will invite you to get physical during the practical examinations.

The role of a firefighter is physically demanding and so it is important for us to assess your ability to handle the situations and challenges you will face. We do this through a series of physical and practical tests.

These will include:

Multi Stage Fitness test (Bleep Test)

You will be asked to run at increasing speeds of 0.5 km/hr over a 20 metre shuttle distance to the pace of a cd player. You will start off jogging at 8.5 km/hr at level 1. The test will bleep to start and you must meet the bleep at each 20m shuttle. If you are at the 20m line before the bleep you must stop and wait for the bleep before you set off back, if you are at the line short of the bleep you will be informed verbally, failure to meet the bleep on 3 consecutive occasions will result in you failing the test.

To pass this test you must achieve:

  • level 8 shuttle 6 (8.8).
  • Level 8.8
  • Total Distance (metres) - 1560m
  • Total 20m Shuttles - 77
  • Total Time (min:sec) - 9:06

The best way to train for the bleep test is by practising the test itself. The bleep test 'BT Free' app can be downloaded to your smart phone from the app store free of charge. Find a 20m space and mark out (school playground, car park after hours, football pitch, gymnasium), headphones in and off you go. You should always train above and beyond that of what is asked of you to join Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

Tip: If you can successfully achieve level 9 in training you should have no problems on the selection.

Please note the multi stage fitness test (bleep test) will be the first test carried out on the day. If you do not reach the required standard then you will not progress any further.

If you reach the required standard in the MSFT then you will progress on to the following practical tests:

  • Ladder Climb - This aims to test your confidence with heights
  • Casualty Evacuation - This aims to test your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination -
  • Ladder Lift - This aims to test your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination - 
  • Enclosed Space - Working in enclosed spaces is sometimes required when working as a firefighter. This test is designed to test your confidence, agility and stamina working in these conditions.
  • Equipment Assembly - This test is designed to assess your manual dexterity and coordination - 
  • Equipment Carry - This aims to test your upper and lowerbody strength as well as your co-ordination 

These sessions are run by our Operational Training Group so you will be in safe hands as you progress through the day.

Upon successfully passing the practical tests you will be invited to attend an interview. This will take place at Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, Penrith, Cumbria and will last for about an hour.

This will be our chance to get to know more about you and ask you more about the information you provided within your online application.


We require candidates to take a full medical assessment prior to joining us. You will need to meet the nationally agreed health and fitness standards for the physically demanding and potentially hazardous role of a firefighter and to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

The assessment will be conducted by our Occupational Health Unit at our Penrith Headquarters.

The tests that will be completed on the day will include:

  • A check of your blood pressure and pulse
  • Checks of your height, weight and body mass index
  • A hearing test
  • A grip strength test
  • A vision test (Please note, if you have received laser eye surgery this procedure must have been carried out a minimum of 1 month prior to your medical assessment)
  • A test of your lung function
  • A drugs and alcohol test

During the examination you may be checked for hernias in your groin and abdomen area, so please dress appropriately.  You may, if you wish, request a chaperone to be present during the examination.

At the medical you will be measured for Breathing Apparatus Facemask Face Fit test therefore the length and thickness of sideburns should be such that they will not prevent the efficient use of breathing apparatus and for this reason beards are not permitted.

The medical may take up to three hours.

An offer of appointment will not be made until you have passed the medical examination and we are in receipt of satisfactory references.

You will also be measured for uniform during your medical appointment.


The basic training course will start on Monday 4th March and will run for up to 16 weeks.

Successful trainees must be able to start basic training on this date without exception and be able to attend all of the basic training course.  There will be a requirement for trainees to stay overnight in provided accommodation Monday to Friday for the duration of the course.

Following successful completion of the basic training course you will be allocated to a fire station.

This could be at any fire station within the county. Station allocation will be communicated at the end of the basic training course. Newly appointed firefighters will have to complete a two year probation period which will involve continued assessment.