Job Description:

Firefighters save people and property from fire and other dangers, and give advice on fire prevention.

Job Category:
Aerospace & Defence

What you will do:

You’ll work for a fire and rescue service run by your local area or county, overseen by a fire and rescue authority. Your work will be a mix of fire station duties, fire prevention and dealing with emergencies.

Every day will be different, but could include:

  • inspecting and maintaining equipment
  • carrying out practice drills and taking part in training
  • rescuing people and animals from burning buildings and accident sites
  • controlling and putting out fires
  • dealing with bomb alerts and floods
  • managing chemical or hazardous substance spills
  • giving presentations to schools and community groups
  • inspecting buildings to make sure they meet fire safety regulations


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • knowledge of training and how to present information
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a firefighter, there are no specific requirements, but you should focus on developing a strong foundation in a variety of subjects and skills that are important for the role. Firefighters are responsible for responding to fires and emergencies, providing medical assistance, and performing rescue operations. Here are recommended subjects and considerations:

  1. Mathematics: Strong math skills are important for various aspects of the job, including calculating water pressure, understanding fire behavior, and performing calculations related to emergency response.
  2. English: Effective communication is crucial for briefing team members, interacting with the public, and documenting incidents. Good written and verbal communication skills are essential.
  3. Science: Understanding the principles of chemistry and physics can be valuable for comprehending fire behavior, the effects of hazardous materials, and emergency response techniques.
  4. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is a critical aspect of firefighting. Participate in physical education and fitness programs to build and maintain your physical strength and endurance.
  5. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Familiarity with technology is important for using equipment and systems used in firefighting, such as communication devices and fire suppression tools.

Post School

You must be 18, although you can apply slightly earlier if you’ll be 18 by the time you get the job.

You’ll need to pass a series of physical and written tests, a medical and an interview.

You can find out more about the selection process by getting a firefighter recruitment pack from your local fire and rescue service.

You may need high school qualifications in English and maths, depending on which fire service you want to join.

Volunteering in a support role will give you an idea of the job, as well as access to internal vacancies.

Before you can begin any work, you usually need to pass background security checks.

Working Hours and Environment:

You can work full-time (wholetime), or as a part-time (retained) firefighter.

If you’re full-time, you’ll work a 42 hour week which includes shifts to cover a 24 hour service. A typical shift pattern is 2 day shifts, 2 night shifts and 4 days off-duty.

As a retained firefighter, you’ll have no formal hours but agree to be available quickly in emergency situations.

This job can be stressful and demanding, both physically and emotionally. You’ll often work in uncomfortable and dangerous situations, for example at heights, around toxic chemicals or in enclosed spaces.

You’ll need a full driving licence.

Career Path & Progression:

All fire services in the UK, run the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) which allows you to plan and track your career development.

You could work your way up to crew manager, watch manager or station manager. If you’re prepared to move between services, you could also become an area manager, a brigade manager or a chief fire officer.

If you’re involved in fire safety and prevention work, you can take professional qualifications leading to membership of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE).

You could also get a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence for driving fire engines.