Firefighters control and put out fires.

What does a firefighter do?

Firefighters control and put out fires, as well as rescuing people, property and animals from dangerous situation such as floods, fires and car accidents. To be a firefighter you’ll need a high level of physical fitness and good communication skills. You’ll often be working outdoors and to a shift pattern.

What do I need to do to become a firefighter?

You will need to be 18 years old to start training as a firefighter. Every fire brigade sets its own entry requirements – to find out more about these, contact the chief fire officer’s office for the brigade you’d like to join. Job specific training is usually provided by the fire service. You will be expected to pass physical and medical fitness tests to begin your training.

A number of colleges offer courses in uniformed public services. These are not essential, but are a good preparation for a variety of careers in the police, fire service and armed forces.

Some colleges work with local fire brigades to offer a short part-time fire service pre-recruitment course. These could be a good way to prepare for the selection tests. You may also be able to take the Level 2 Award/Certificate/Diploma in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community, with your local service. This covers some of the knowledge and skills you need in the job.

Contact your local college and fire service to see what’s available in your area.

Related skills

  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Physical fitness
  • Communication
  • Discipline
  • Mechanical knowledge
  • Interpersonal skills

Related subjects

  • Design technology
  • Physical education

Essential qualifications

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Pass a physical fitness exam

Where could I be working?

You could work full-time or as a part-time (retained) firefighter: 

  • full-time, you usually work 42 hours a week, including day and night shifts to cover a 24-hour service
  • as a retained firefighter, you would usually be based in rural areas or smaller towns. You may have another job but you would make yourself available in emergency situations

This job can be stressful and physically demanding, often working in very uncomfortable situations, for example at heights or in enclosed spaces. You'll be working in all weathers and danger from collapsing buildings, vehicle fumes and explosions are all part of the job.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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