Wholetime Firefighter recruitment - Application process

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.

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

The following information is designed to give you an indication of the recruitment process for wholetime and apprentice 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.

You will be required to complete the online registration process:

  • 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 8 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. 

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 assessment which 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) This 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.

Follow completion of the above online assessments, you will be invited to complete the Ability Tests. 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 are successful at the Ability Tests then you may be required to sit verification assessments later on in the process. 

Dates for each of the stages can be found within Key Dates.

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

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 8.8
  • 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 Bleep Test will be the first assessment carried out on the day. To pass the test you must achieve level 8.8. Those who achieve below level 8.8 but above 6.8 will be allowed to continue with the remaining assessments but be subject to further assessment by means of Chester Treadmill Walk Test at a date chosen by the Service. Failure to achieve level 6.8 will result in you being removed from the process with immediate effect.

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

  • Ladder Climb - This aims to test your confidence with heights
  • 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 an assessment centre. Assessments will be held at LEP offices at Redhills, Penrith, and CFRS Headquarters, Penrith and will last half a day.

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.

During your time at the assessment centre 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. You will also be measured for uniform.


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 Team at our Penrith Headquarters.

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

  • A check of your blood pressure and pulse
  • A check of your blood pressure, height and weight
  • A hearing test (audiometry)
  • 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 12 months prior to your medical assessment)
  • A lung function test (spirometry)
  • A urine drug screen 

The medical may take up to two hours.

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

The basic training course will run for up to 12 weeks. Successful trainees must be able to attend all of the basic training course. This will predominantly be based at Carlisle between Monday to Friday each week.  Please note: accommodation will be not provided.

Newly appointed firefighters will have to complete a two year probation period which will involve continued support and assessment. During your development period you will be supported to work towards the Level 3 operational firefighter apprenticeship qualification.

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