Wholetime Firefighter Recruitment 2024
Recruitment for 2024 is starting soon!
We are excited to share that the recruitment for Wholetime Firefighters at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is starting soon. Please read all below information on our: Engagement Sessions; Registration and Eligibility; Application process; Selection Days; and Medicals and Pre-Employment Checks.
We have also put a timetable for the process below - please take note of these dates and consider if you will be available for them, as we are unable to offer alternative dates.
Keep checking back to this page for further updates.
- The Resourcing Team, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service
Please see the Wholetime Firefighter Recruitment timeline for 2023/2024. Please check these dates carefully and ensure you will be able to attend each step of the process, as we are unable to offer alternative dates.
Engagement Sessions - Virtual and In-Person - Nov 2023
HAVE A GO DAYS - DECEMBER 2023
Also come along to our in-person days/evenings:
- Have-A-Go in-person day at Ulverston Fire Station, on Saturday 9th December 2023
- Have-A-Go evening at Workington Fire Station, starting 6.30pm on 12th December 2023
- Have-A-Go evening at Carlisle East Fire Station, starting 6.30pm on 14th December 2023
Previous sessions held have been:
- Initial Engagement Session - 7pm, on 29/10/2023
- Women In Fire Virtual Session - 7pm on 07/11/2023
- Neurodiversity and Dyslexia virtual session - 7pm on 20/11/2023
- 'What Can CFRS offer you?' virtual session - 7pm on 23/11/2023
(video clips at the bottom of the page!)
Registration & Eligibility - Opens Week Commencing 4th December 2023
Further information is below on Eligibility to become a Wholetime Firefighter and the Registration Process.
Registration & Eligibility - Closes Friday 22nd December 2023
Make sure you read all the key info in the Registration and Eligibility section below. After Friday 22nd Dec, you will not be able to register.
Online Assessments & National Ability Tests - Open Thursday 4th Jan 2024
Further information is below on the online assessment tests and National Ability Tests, in the relevant section.
Online Assessments & National Ability Tests - Closed Monday 29th Jan 2024
You have 4 weeks to complete all tests, so please make sure you read all the key info in the Online Assessments and National Ability Tests section below. After Monday 29th Jan 2024, you will not be able to start or complete any of the online tests.
Practical Selection Days - Feb 2024
Please see below the dates for the Practical Selection Days. For more information on what happens at the Practical Selection Days, please read the section below.
Week 1 - Carlisle East Fire Station - *UPDATED*
Wednesday 21st Feb 2024
Thursday 22nd Feb 2024
Friday 23rd Feb 2024
Week 2 - Barrow Fire Station
Tuesday 27th Feb 2024
Wednesday 28th Feb 2024
Thursday 29th Feb 2024
Assessment Days - March 2024
Please see below the dates for the Assessment Days. The locations for the days will be confirmed asap. For more information on what happens at the Assessment Days, please read the section below.
Day 1 - Tuesday 12th March 2024
Day 2 - Wednesday 13th March 2024
Day 3 - Thursday 14th March 2024
Pre-Employment Drop-In Sessions - March 2024
To support candidates with pre-employment checks, we are holding drop-in sessions at Penrith Fire Station across the below days:
Tuesday 19th March 2024
Weds 20th March 2024
Thursday 21st March 2024
Those who are successful at the Assessment Days will receive further information on how to book a slot and what they need to bring along to these days.
Medicals - May & June 2024
Medical Days will be held across several dates in May and June 2024. This is to offer multiple days in case candidates are on holiday, or if there are any delays. Information on the Medicals is below in the relevant section.
Pre-Employment Checks - June & July 2024
For anyone who passes the Medical, the Resourcing team will process your pre-employment checks across June, July, and possibly August 2024. We will aim to get as much initial information from candidates at the Drop-In sessions in March, but DBS checks will be processed following Medicals. Information on the Pre-Employment Checks is below in the relevant section.
Basic Training Course - September 2024
The Basic Training Course will run for up to 14 weeks, starting in September 2024. Successful candidates will need to attend all of the training course. Further information on the course and the training offered is below, in the relevant section.
If you've ever wanted a job where you engage directly with your community, where you can be trained to the highest standards, where it feels like you are part of something bigger, and where you can make a real difference - maybe we have the role for you!
We are recruiting Wholetime Firefighters in 2024 and we want to meet with any interested candidates to support you as best we can through this process. To do this we are holding a number of Engagement Sessions, both virtual and in-person, for anyone who would like to find out more about the application process, the role of a modern Firefighter, and also what it's like to work in Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.
Have-A-Go in person sessions:
We are planning the below sessions candidates will be able to attend:
- Ulverston Open Day - Come and have a go! - on Saturday 9th December, at Ulverston Fire Station
- 2 sessions: Morning, from 10am, and afternoon, from 12pm
- Have A Go evening - on Tuesday 12th December, at Workington Fire Station
- Have A Go evening - on Thursday 14th December, at Carlisle East Fire Station
Register your interest to attend
If you would like to attend one of our Have A Go sessions, please complete the below form so we can gauge numbers and ensure we have the right activities and information in place.
If you have any queries, please get in touch with our team on: Recruitment@cumbriafire.gov.uk
Following each of our Engagement Sessions, we will add any helpful FAQs below. We have also added a video clip of Annie, our Recruitment and Fitness Coordinator, from our first session where she is discussing the Practical Selection Days and Medicals - please scroll to the bottom of this page to watch that.
Q) How many Wholetime Firefighters are we looking to recruit this time around?
Answer: We are running on basic training course and are looking for a maximum of 14 trainees to be on this course.
Q) If I was successful in joining Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, would I have to live in Cumbria?
Answer: No, but you would need to be able to travel and work in Cumbria.
Q) What kind of shifts do Wholetime FFs do at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service?
Answer: Three shift patterns that CFRS employe. Standard, which is 7.30am start and 18:00pm finish. You do that for 2 days, and then you do 2 night shifts, which start at 18:00pm and finish at 07:30am in the morning. So it's two days, two nights, and then 4 days off. The second one is at Ulverston, where they do a 07:30am to 07:30pm/ 12-hour shift, and they have various days off within that shift pattern. Penrith do 07:30pm to 06:00pm, over a period of different days as well. The main shift pattern is 07:30pm - 06:00pm, 2-2-4.
Q) How long is the training course?
Answer: 12 weeks long
Q) What is the work/life balance like?
Answer: "Some people find it fantastic. You get used to the two days, two nights, four days off pattern. Prioritise your sleep, and then fill your days however; I fill them productively, I do some volunteering, and my partner and I can just go on our days off. It's one of those fantastic careers, and I know other emergency services work similar patterns, and it's full on and you can have spells where it will be wildly busy, and then it drops off a bit. It varies throughout the year. But overall, you work four days on, four days off, so you're almost off for about half the year when you really sort of dig into it." - Ella, Firefighter with CFRS
Q) Have you ever been treated differently as a female firefighter when going into emergencies or into communities?
Answer: "Not specifically. You get a lot of questions. Obviously there's a lot of news about fire services across the UK this year, and a lot of reports have been out and published, but for me, it's a positive thing. We are all proud to work for this fire service and that includes everyone. I think when these situations [nationally] build up, people are very interested to hear our side of it, which I didn't expect but it's nice people ask. The big thing is, when you turn up to jobs, I find, you've got your PPE on, your helmet on, it's quite anonymous. When you take your helmet off, you know, sometimes people are surprised, but it's quite an anonymous role and people are keen to know your experience." - Ella, Firefighter with CFRS
Registration and Eligibility opens on week commencing 4th December 2023 and closes at midday on Friday 22nd December 2023.
When Registration and Eligibility goes live, we will share a link for candidates to complete the online registration process, which includes an online assessment which will be used to determine your suitability for the role of Firefighter.
The Registration process will ask for your details, which will only be accessed by the Resourcing team. You will then complete the online assessment which uses scenarios and multiple choice questions to assess your suitability for the role.
Then there will be an Eligibility Screen, which will ask the below questions ensuring you are eligible to apply:
- Are you 18 years old or over?
- Are you eligible to work in the UK?
- Do you have a full driving licence?
- Do you have any unspent Criminal Convictions?
- Do you have any Court Judgements outstanding against you?
- Do you wear glasses or contact lenses?
Please note: If you are not 18 years old or over at the time of Registration, you will not be eligible to apply.
Once you have completed Registration and Eligibility, successful candidates will receive an e-mail advising how you can proceed to the next stages of the process, which are the online National Ability Tests.
Reasonable Adjustments - if you require Reasonable Adjustments throughout the process, please make sure you share this when you Register. The Resourcing team will let the external provider know and they will give candidates 25% additional time on the timed tests - see the Online Assessments & National Ability Tests section below.
The National Firefighter Ability Tests will open on Thursday 4th January 2024. They consist of three ability tests which help determine your suitability for the role of a Firefighter. The tests will close on Monday 29th January 2024 and no extensions or deadlines will be given.
Due to the high volume of applicants we receive, the process will be all online and supported by email only. Candidates who successfully pass the Eligibility Screen will receive three emails which will have clear instructions on how to access each assessment/test. and information on how to acces support if needed.
Please make sure you check your emails, including Spam/Trash, on the day the online assessments are launched.
These tests adhere to a strict timetable and if you miss an email, this is your responsibility as we will not extend deadlines under any circumstances.
Before the tests go live, we will update this section with a guide - you must read this carefully before starting the online process.
The three ability tests are:
- Behavioural Questionnaire
- Situational Judgement Test
- FRS Ability Tests, which are Verbal, Numerical, and Mechanical Reasoning (these are timed tests)
The Behavioural Styles Questionnaire is an assessment which explores your preferred haviours in a working environment. The Situational Judgement Test measures your judgement and decision-making skills in situations that are typical in a Fire and Rescue Service.
To practice the FRS Ability Tests, go to the Test Partnership site, linked below.
Reasonable Adjustments - if you require Reasonable Adjustments at this stage in the process, please make sure you share this when you Register for the process. The Resourcing team will let the external provider know and they will give candidates 25% additional time on the timed tests.
Finding out the outcome - Candidates who meet the benchmark for the Online Assessments and National Ability Tests will be invited to attend a Practical Selection Day - this will be via email. Unfortunately, as there will hundreds of applicants at this stage, we will not be able to provide you with individual feedback on the online assessments or tests.
If you are successful at the Online Assessment and Ability Test stage, we will email you and invite you to one of our Practical Selection Days. The dates for the Selection Days are:
Wednesday 21st Feb 2024, Thursday 22nd Feb 2024, and Friday 23rd Feb 2024.
These will be held at Carlisle East Fire Station.
Tuesday 27th Feb 2024, Wednesday 28th Feb 2024, and Thursday 29th Feb 2024.
These will be held at Barrow Fire Station.
What will I have to do at a Practical Selection Day?
We aim for our Practical Selection Days to be engaging, interesting, fun, and hard work. The days will be lead by our Recruitment and Fitness Coordinator, Annie, and you will get to meet staff from across our service who are supporting. You will complete a series of physical and practical tests, which are detailed below.
You will be asked to run at increasing speeds of 0.5km/hr over a 20 metres shuttle distance to the pace of a Bleep Test app. You will start off jogging at 8.5km/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 the Bleep Test you must achieve:
- Level 8.8
- Total distance (metres): 1560m
- Total 20m Shuttles: 77
- Total time: 9 minutes 6 seconds
How to train for the Bleep Test
The best way to train for the Bleep Test is by practising the test itself. The Bleep Test App 'BT Free' 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!
Tip: If you can successfully achieve level 9 in training you should have no problems on the selection days.
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. If you are unable to achieve level 8.8, your practical selection day will end and you won't be able to complete any further assessments, so if you're really passionate about becoming a Firefighter, this is a key test to practise for.
Hand Grip Test
You will be asked to perform the handgrip test, which will include your left and right hands. This is to assess your ability to carry equipment.
You will need to achieve:
- 33kg in your non-dominant hand
- 35kg in your dominant hand
If you do not meet these standards, unfortunately you won't be able to proceed further with the physical assessments.
Exercises to strengthen your hand grip include: full body hand holds, i.e. holding onto a pull up bar for as long as you can, farmers walk and pull ups. Kettle bell swings and deadlifts are also good exercises.
If you are unsuccessful at either the Bleep Test or Hand Grip Test, you are welcome to observe the rest of the assessments. This will provide you with further understanding and knowledge of our recruitment process, and can give you insight on what you will need to train for if you would like to apply again next time.
Next steps if you pass the Bleep Test and Hand Grip Test:
You will progress 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 composure working in these conditions
- Equipment Assembly - This test is designed to assess your manual dexterity and coordination
- Equipment Carry - This aims to test your functional strength, stamina and endurance. You will be required to carry various equipment over a 25m distance.
- 55kg Dummy Drag
Before each test, the Assessor will demonstrate what is required and will also be clear about the scoring criteria for that test.
All these tests are part of the National Firefighter Selection Tests (NSFT), which are governed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
Anything else to know?
The Resourcing team will be there on the day to answer any queries you might have, and you'll also get to meet members of the service and ask them any questions, such as: What is is like to be a Firefighter? What is it like to attend an incident? Is Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service good to work for? Where are the toilets? etc.
The day is part of the recruitment process but we want candidates to feel comfortable and bring their best selves. You won't be scored on any questions you ask on the day, but we do expect candidates to demonstrate our Code of Ethics and be professional.
We've had some great candidate feedback on our previous Practical Selection Days and hope the 2024 days will be just as good.
For any queries, please contact Recruitment@cumbriafire.gov.uk
Reasonable Adjustments - if you require Reasonable Adjustments at this stage in the process, the Resourcing team will give candidates the opportunity to confidentially discuss any support we can provide when the invites to the Practical Selection Days go out.
Finding out the outcome - Candidates who pass the Practical Selection Days will be informed via email from the Resourcing team, on Tuesday 5th March 2024. Due to the high number of candidates, we will not be able to provide detailed Individual feedback on the practical and physical assessments, however on the days we will aim to give candidates on-the-spot feedback where possible.
If you successfully pass the tests at the Selection Days, then you will be invited to the next stage of the Wholetime process, which are the Assessment Days.
These will be held on:
Day 1 - Tuesday 12th March 2024
Day 2 - Wednesday 13th March 2024
Day 3 - Thursday 14th March 2024
We are still finalising the location of the Assessment Days, but will communicate this as soon as we know so candidates can plan accordingly.
What happens at an Assessment Day?
For each candidate, this assessment stage will last half a day, and you'll be invited to attend in either the morning or afternoon. This is our chance to get to know you more and assessment activities will include interviews, exercises, and group discussions, covering areas such as:
- Emotional resilience
- Problem Solving
- Fairness and Inclusion
How should I prepare for the Assessment Day?
The first port of call to prep for the Assessment Day should be the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service web pages. Here you will find our Service Plans, our Code of Ethics, and information about who we are as a service. We are passionate about our service vision:
A community-focussed, professional, and trusted Fire and Rescue Service that makes Cumbria a safer place for all.
It's also good to look at some national websites, such as the NFCC website, to learn about what is happening across the sector.
It may also be helpful to read the NFCC Leadership Framework and the NFCC Firefighter - Leading Yourself documents, both linked below.
Reasonable Adjustments - if you require Reasonable Adjustments at this stage in the process, the Resourcing team will give candidates the opportunity to confidentially discuss any support we can provide when the invites to the Assessment Days go out.
Finding out the outcome - Candidates who pass the Assessment Days will be informed via email from the Resourcing team, on Saturday 16th March 2024. Where possible, we will aim to provide candidates with individual feedback from the Assessment Days, however this may be sent out at a later date due to other stages in the process needing to take place. We understand this wait can be frustrating, but we will communicate with candidates at the time about when to expect the feedback.
This year we are doing something a bit different, as we want to support candidates as best as possible with gathering all the information they need for Medicals and pre-employment, avoiding any delays and potential disappointment.
So for 2024, we will be holding Pre-Employment Drop-In Sessions for candidates who successfully pass the Assessment Days. These are designed to give you an opportunity to meet the Resourcing team and spend some dedicated time getting all the required info together for the next steps. This includes:
- Taking a copy of your Proof of Right to Work
- Access to a laptop to complete your Medical Questionnaire
- We will collect your referee details and your consent to contact them, if you pass your medical
- Consent for us to process a DBS Check, which will start following passing your medical
- We will give you an Eyesight Standards Form
- We will take your sizing for Uniform
- Collect your personal details, which will be used following passing your medical to get you set up on the system
All of this information will be securely held with the Resourcing team, but it means that when you hopefully pass your medical, we can get going quickly with your pre-employment checks and supporting you to get ready for the Basic Training Course.
The dates for these drop-in sessions are Tuesday 19th March 2024, Wednesday 20th March 2024, and Thursday 21st March 2024.
We require all candidates to take a full medical assessment prior to joining our service. These assessments will be conducted by our Occupational Health team at our Penrith Headquarters.
The tests that will be completed on the day include:
- A check of your blood pressure and pulse
- A check of your blood pressure, height, and weight
- A hearing test (audiometry)
- 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 assessment)
- A lung function test (spirometry)
- A urine drug screen
The medical appointment may take up to two hours.
If you have any queries about the tests above, please get in touch with our team and if appropriate, we can liaise with Occupational Health to help answer your query. Recruitment@cumbriafire.gob.uk
On the day of your medical, the team will also do your BA Face Fit and your PPE fittings.
If you pass the your Medical, the Resourcing team will then begin to process your pre-employment checks across June, July, and possibly August 2024.
The pre-employment checks are:
- Proof of Right to Work - for information on what you'll need, please go to the gov website, linked here: www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work
- Two References: one from your current or most recent employer, and another that can be an employment or character reference
- A Standard DBS Check - for information on our Safer Recruitment, go to our dedicated pages here: Safer Recruitment
- New Starter Checklist - to make sure you're on the right tax code
Please note: an offer of employment will not be made until we are in receipt of satisfactory pre-employment checks.
Once all the checks have been completed, we will organise a place for you on our Wholetime Basic Training Course. This course gives you the skills to become a Firefighter and it's the start of your professional journey with us.
The training course last for up to 14 weeks, and you will learn core skills needed for the role of a Firefighter. Candidates who are successful in getting a place on our course must be able to attend all of the training course.
Further information about the course will be added shortly - keep checking back!