Firefighter recruitment

Our firefighters make up the majority of our workforce. Their role is a varied one, attending emergency incidents involving fires, road traffic collisions, water rescue, entrapments and more. Equally important is the prevention and protection work, part of our ‘upstream firefighting’ this work aims to prevent fires before they happen by supporting and engaging with the communities and businesses.

Read on down to see if being a firefighter is the role for you!

Introduction

Requirements

To become a West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) firefighter you must:

 be at least 18 years old at the time you apply

 live in the area covered by WMFS (please note that postcode and proof of address will be required).

 be physically fit to meet the requirements of the role

We’re actively encouraging applications from female candidates and from members of the West Midlands’ black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. These groups are under-represented in our organisation, and it’s important to us that our workforce reflects the diversity of our communities as much as possible. But the process is, of course, open to all. You can read more about this in our positive action section.

What’s involved?

Traditionally, firefighters are seen as dealing with fires and rescuing people from burning buildings.

But the majority of the work that firefighters are involved in is community fire safety work. This ‘prevention’ work recognises that the best way of fighting fire is to stop it from starting in the first place – mainly by educating and informing the public

As a firefighter you will find yourself involved with schools, community volunteer groups, and other organisations. Being able to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people is important, as is treating people with dignity and respect, irrespective of their backgrounds and cultures.

They also need to deal sensitively with members of the public when they are distressed and confused and be able to solve problems using relevant information. Your initiative and empathy is very important.

For more details about recruitment, please read on down, or contact our Diversity, Inclusion, Cohesion and Equality Team by e-mailing opportunities@wmfs.net

To apply, ensure you have read all the information on our website, then go to https://www.beafirefighter.co.uk/

Is it for me?

The role of a firefighter

The role of a firefighter is exciting, varied, challenging and every day is different. You can read about the various elements of the role here to find out if it’s the career for you!

Prevention and Education

  • prevent fire and accidents from starting in the first place
  • working empathetically to help and care for people in whatever capacity.
  • delivering Safe and Well visits and advising people about risks to their safety, health and wellbeing.
Male firefighter going through a safe and well visit with a female occupier.

Working within the community

  • support the community by visiting schools, community centres and people in their own homes – in fact, anywhere our fire safety message can be delivered
  • actively seeking to understand and to value diverse individuals and groups, working with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities
  • school and nursery visits where we deliver bespoke safety education. 
Firefighter teaching road safety to some children

Training and Development

  • undertake a continuous training programme of lectures, exercises, practical training sessions and other forms of training to maintain competency levels 
  • take responsibility for developing your own skills 
  • ensuring your fitness levels are maintained, as the work can be both physically and mentally demanding. 
Two trainee firefighters in breathing apparatus using a thermal image camera in a firefighting training exercise.

Responding to Emergencies

  • respond immediately and safely to all emergency calls 
  • minimise distress and suffering, including giving first aid 
  • dealing with many kinds of emergencies, including pumping out flooded premises, chemical spillages, providing casualty care and extraction at road traffic accidents and rescuing people who are trapped in buildings or lifts.
Several fire engines inside Coventry Fire Station engine bay

Training and development

As a firefighter with West Midlands Fire Service, you’ll be on a journey of continuous learning, training and personal development.

After successfully completing the recruitment and selection process, you will get a date for your initial 8-week firefighter training course on which you’ll be expected to absorb a large amount of practical and theoretical information and material.

The practical side of the course focuses on using breathing apparatus, hoses, ladders, hydraulic rescue equipment, fire-fighting techniques, first aid and trauma management.

The theoretical side of the course involves a strong emphasis on the prevention work you’ll be doing, learning how we support the health agenda, first aid and trauma management and working with the most vulnerable members of our community.

The course is intensive, requiring dedication and commitment. Studying in your own time, at night and at weekends, must be expected. Your progress will be continually monitored and assessed, both practically and theoretically.

On successful completion of your initial training course you’ll be posted to a fire station. We’ll do our best to allocate you a station near to where you live. However, your contract will state that you must be prepared to serve anywhere within the area we cover. Once posted to a station, you’ll be developing the skills you have gained throughout your eight-week training course and you will continue to be assessed.

Salary and benefits

There are many benefits to working for West Midlands Fire Service – job satisfaction and an extensive career structure, just for starters.

We also offer real promotion prospects. To progress, you’ll need to develop your skills and demonstrate a level of competency within your current role, before taking part in an assessment centre and interview process to determine your suitability for the next role.

Any skills gained from qualifications or experience you bring into the service may be relevant when you’re working towards a promotion or looking to move into a specialised role.

Annual leave

A firefighter has 22 days’ annual leave a year, with an additional 3 days after five years of service, plus 8 Bank Holidays.

Pension

The firefighter pension scheme is an excellent benefit on retirement. A firefighter contributes 10% of their salary a month into the scheme.

Salary

The current salary for a newly-appointed firefighter after completing initial training is around £22,900 rising to around £30,500 when competent.

Occupational health

The physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of all of our staff is paramount, so we can provide an excellent emergency service to our communities.

Our Occupational Health team offers a friendly, confidential service for all employees. We have qualified occupational health practitioners, a fitness adviser and qualified administrators who all work in the health and welfare area. They promote and maintain good physical and mental health, and provide periodic health reviews, fitness and welfare advice and confidential counselling. Services include employee discount schemes, physiotherapy, pre-retirement courses, critical incident debriefing and access to the facilities of The Fire Fighters Charity.

Equality and diversity

We recognise that many people, particularly those from minority communities and women, experience inequality in society and the workplace. This is why we try to lead by example, taking individual and organisational steps to challenge prejudice and remove discrimination, and actively promoting a working environment which is conducive to good working relationships and which will ultimately benefit the communities we serve.

West Midlands Fire Service will not discriminate on any grounds that cannot be justified, including: disability, marital status, gender or gender reassignment, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, maternity/paternity, race or trade union membership.

We will also ensure that appropriate resources and training will be allocated to ensure that managers and staff are aware of their professional and personal responsibilities to each other and to the public they serve.

Our commitment to the ‘Public Sector Duties’ under the Equality Act 2010 and our own Core Values underpin all decisions we take and all actions of our employees in all areas of work including recruitment, employment and service delivery.

All employees are bound by our Core Values, Code of Conduct and Dignity at Work policy.

We encourage employees to recognise that equality is not about treating everybody the same but recognising we are all individuals and unique in our own way. Equality and fairness are about recognising, accepting and valuing people’s unique individuality according to their needs. This often means that individuals may be treated differently, yet fairly, based on their needs.

For our full diversity policy and details on how we use positive action in our service, see our documents section for details.

We are the 6th most inclusive employer in the 'Inclusive top 50 Employers'

Frequently asked questions

Recruitment

We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees can’t have a second job without first obtaining written approval from us.

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Eyesight standards for firefighters are as follows and it is to the standard for LGV (Group 2) driver requirements and to National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) standards:

  • Corrected visual acuity should be 6/7.5 in the good eye and 6/12 in the worse eye
  • uncorrected vision for trainees should be 6/36 binocularly (both eyes)
  • an upper hypermetropic limit of +3.00
  • ability to read N12 letters at 30cm unaided (applicants aged 25 and over)
  • ability to read N6 at 30cm unaided (applicants under 25 years of age)
  • no history of night blindness or any ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in future failure of the visual standards for firefighters.

You must also pass a test to see if you are colour blind.

Laser Eye Surgery Standards

If you have had eye laser surgery, you must wait 6-12 months before applying to allow for stabilisation.

If you have undergone laser eye surgery, a report should be requested from the treating ophthalmologist to include the following details:

  • Confirmation that the eye has returned to normal and that there is no significant loss of corneal transparency over the pupil area
  • confirmation that there is no keratectasia
  • details of their pre-operative refractive error and any complications that may have occurred during or following the procedure with confirmation that the post-operative corneal thickness does not put them at increased risk from indirect trauma or from rubbing the eyes
  • confirmation that they do not have significant sensitivity to scattered light and that they retain good low-light performance.
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We have a policy which prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking in all of our premises.

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If you want to become a firefighter with us, your first place to look is our firefighter’s careers page. This gives you all the information about recruitment and the role itself to see if it’s the job for you, and details of how to apply are there too!

It isn’t for everyone, and it’s much more than just being fit and healthy. But for those that join our emergency services family, it’s a rewarding career that we hope will last a lifetime!

 

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Our recruitment process is done in cycles, so there can be a wait time of up to 8-10 weeks between each cycle. While we work as quickly as we can to process the different stages of application, assessment days and so on, we get a large number of applicants so different stages can take longer than expected. If you have sent in an application, please be patient.

We apologise for any delay and rest assured the team will be in touch as soon as they can.

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If you were unsuccessful in an application to be a firefighter with us, you can apply again in 12 month from your notification from us that you were not successful.

Due to the application process requiring a national insurance number, which you would have already entered on your previous application, the system may show an error stating the NI number has already been used. If you experience this difficulty, please email our recruitment team at opportunities@wmfs.net with your details and this can be reset for you.

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Unfortunately not.

We’ll do our best to place all new employees at a station that doesn’t cause any inconvenience in terms of travel, etc, but we must take into account where we need to fill vacancies.

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We adopt an assertive, safe and effective approach to how we manage incidents.

Whilst there have been some fatalities to firefighters around the country when attending incidents, and they can never be hazard-free, we’ve developed a very positive approach to health and safety. As an organisation, we set extremely high standards and expectations in this area.

Our firefighters work within a ‘competency framework,’ as well as effective personal protective equipment such as helmets and other fire kit. At incidents, safe systems of work are established with a high level of command and control.

Plus, we constantly stress the importance of personal safety to our staff.

Away from incidents, our commitment to health safety and well-being is maintained across all areas of activity.

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When trying to apply to be a firefighter for us, you need to enter a national insurance number. If you’ve applied before, you may get an error saying your national insurance number has already been used and won’t allow you to continue.

Our teams can unlock this for you, provided the appropriate time has passed since your previous application. Please email your details and the issue you’re experiencing to opportunities@wmfs.net and they can do this for you.

 

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Most of our operational firefighters work a standard shift pattern from 08:00 until 18:00 on a ‘tour’ of two days, two nights then four days off.

Each crew typically has 4 watches, which are identified by different colours – Red, Green, Blue and White.

Each core watch follows the same pattern of two days, two nights then four days off, but the starting days are staggered for each watch so we have cover 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

For example: Red Watch might start their tour on Monday, Green Watch would start on Wednesday and so on.

We also have ‘lates’ crews that work at some of our stations and they work 4 days on and 4 days off, working 10:00-22:00 each working day. The lates watch colours are Orange and Purple.

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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.

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Not necessarily. If you have a conviction, then a panel will consider the nature of the conviction, its relevance to the role you are applying for, the sentence, any pattern of offending and the length of time since the offence.

You will be informed if a panel is to be convened and will have the opportunity to provide additional information in a supporting statement.

An assessment will then be carried out to identify the risks to us as an organisation, our business, customers, clients and employees. The panel will decide if your application can proceed, and this is usually at an early stage in the recruitment process.

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No – this is a popular misconception, because there used to be restrictions on height, weight and chest expansion. Candidates are expected to pass strength and fitness tests as part of the recruitment process. The tests are at a level that’s achievable by men and women of all different sizes and builds.

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