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How to become firefighter?

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Becoming a firefighter can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career. But while this profession is often depicted in the media as heroic and exciting, it is also very demanding.

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Ashley Louise
Nov 25, 22 · 7 min read
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To succeed, a firefighter requires a significant amount of dedication and self-motivation.

To answer any questions you may have, we have developed this comprehensive guide on how to become a firefighter. Here, we will cover all the steps you need to take - from getting qualified to starting your career.

What Is Firefighting?

While we know being a firefighter is more than just fighting fires, it is essential to understand what firefighting is. Firefighting means being able to:

  • Approach and fight a variety of fires
  • Work in hazardous conditions
  • Use a variety of firefighting equipment and tools
  • Perform search and rescue operations
  • Manage and control specific incidents

These are just some skills and knowledge that a firefighter must possess. It is also essential to understand how fire behaves and how to contain it. Firefighters must understand the principles of fire science to protect themselves, their colleagues and the public.

What Should You Study to Become a Firefighter?

Technically, you don't need to study any specific qualifications to become a firefighter. 

However, having the right education and knowledge can help you stand out when recruiters are making their selections.

Some fire services have specific access requirements, so always check this information before applying. It is also important to note that as part of your initial assessment, you will have to take some written tests (literacy and numeracy), so having a good grasp of maths and English would be beneficial.

If you have the opportunity, you can take a course to help enhance your knowledge and qualifications. These can include:

  • BSc (Hons) Fire and Rescue degree
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Public Services
  • BSc (Hons) Fire and Leadership degree

You could also partake in the operational firefighter apprenticeship, where you can learn all the core skills and knowledge of a firefighter. 

We must note that many fire services value a person's life experience as much as their qualifications - but always do your due diligence when applying for a role.

What Requirements Do You Need to Meet?

Firefighters must meet certain requirements as outlined by the fire service. As becoming a firefighter is a serious job, there are several restrictions and prerequisites you will need to satisfy.

The minimum requirements for becoming a firefighter in the UK are:

  • Be 18 years old or over
  • Have the right to work in the UK
  • Physically fit and able to meet a certain level of fitness
  • Have a full driver's license
  • Pass all required background checks, including enhanced DBS and medical checks

What Is the Application Process to Become a Firefighter?

Firefighting is a highly competitive career, and the application process will vary depending on the fire service. Also, whether you're applying to be a wholetime firefighter (full time work) or a retained firefighter (on-call work) will alter the application process.

Generally, there are three main stages budding firefighters need to pass:

1. Applying: You can apply either online or in person, depending on your local fire service. This is the hardest part for many people - thanks to the sheer volume of applicants.

2. Assessment: If you get past the first stage, you will then be invited to a recruitment assessment centre. Here you will participate in various activities and tests, such as physical fitness assessments, group exercises and an interview.

3. Training: When you have completed the recruitment process, you will then be accepted onto the fire service's training programme.

What Training Is Required?

Once you have met all the initial requirements and passed the assessments - the next step is to undergo training. The amount of training depends on the fire service, but typically it consists of both practical and theoretical elements.

The formal training takes around 12-16 weeks to complete, depending on the local authority and involves many different topics, such as:

  • Fire training and safety
  • Search and rescue techniques
  • Use of breathing apparatus and other firefighting equipment
  • Practical firefighting skills
  • First aid and CPR

After the initial training is complete, you will then move to on-the-job training.

This is where you will learn how to function in a team and deal with real-life firefighting situations.

How Important Is the Role of a Firefighter?

No matter what stage you are at, you should never forget the importance of being a firefighter. Firefighters often put their lives on the line to protect and save others - which is very serious. These brave individuals provide a vital service to their community, so we should always respect their role.

Even when they aren't putting out fires, they're still helping their community in other ways. For example, providing first aid, conducting fire safety inspections and delivering educational talks. Becoming a firefighter is no easy feat, but it's well worth the effort. If you have the motivation and dedication, you can put yourself in the best position to succeed.

How Much Does a Firefighter Earn?

The amount a firefighter earns will vary from fire service to fire service. However, on average, you can expect to take home around £24,191 as a trainee firefighter. Then, once you complete your training and become an operational firefighter, you can expect to earn around £32,244.

If you decide to progress your career further, you may reach the higher grade pay grades of a crew manager or area manager. These roles will have different salary requirements ranging from £34,269 to £61,667.

What career progression can a Firefighter Make?

Ultimately, the career progression of a firefighter will depend on your ambition. Firefighters can advance to various manager ranks, including watch, station, and brigade managers. Some firefighters can even advance to the chief fire officer, who is responsible for all fire and rescue services in their area.

Other career progression options include:

  • Fire safety inspector
  • Instructor roles
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Search and rescue coordinator/manager
  • Environmental health officer

Whichever route you choose, you will always have the chance to progress - and the variety of opportunities is one of the best things about being a firefighter.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Firefighter?

When deciding if this role is right for you, it is vital to consider the advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of being a firefighter include the following:

  • You can help people
  • There is job security
  • Opportunity to learn many skills
  • Maintain physical fitness
  • A good pension
  • Discount and reward schemes (such as the blue light card)

The disadvantages of being a firefighter can include the following:

  • It can be dangerous, especially in hazardous situations
  • It can be mentally and physically demanding
  • Long working hours, often both day and night
  • Shifts can be disruptive to home life
  • You may experience criticism from members of the public

These are just some of the things you should consider before embarking on a career as a firefighter. Each person is different, and it is ultimately up to you if firefighting is a good fit.


Becoming a firefighter is not an easy path. It takes dedication and hard work to make it in this career. It's important to remember that you will be putting your life at risk, which is why it's essential to consider all the advantages and disadvantages.

Always double-check your local fire services requirements if you decide to apply for a role. But if you have the right qualities and are willing to put in the effort, you could make a great firefighter!

What qualities does a good firefighter need?

Here are the qualities you need to become a good firefighter:
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1. Physical and mental fitness:

Firefighters need to be physically fit and have the stamina to carry out their duties. They also have to have strong mental resilience, able to cope with the extreme pressures of the job.

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