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Wholetime FAQs

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Please note: The 2020 Wholetime Firefighter recruitment campaign has ended. These FAQ's have been left on this page for information purposes. 

Do I need qualifications to become a Firefighter?
Yes, you will need a minimum of two GCSE grades A* to C / grade 9-4 in English and Maths or equivalent. If you did not study GCSE’s, or for general information and guidance on qualifications, please visit https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean/list-of-qualification-levels.

I don’t have GCSE Maths and English, but I did pass the National Firefighter written ability tests – can I still apply?
If you have taken written tests as part of a firefighter selection process, we may be able to accept these as equivalents. We would need confirmation of the tests taken and the outcome. Within the application form you should answer ‘no’ to the question regarding Maths & English, you will still be able to complete your application however. We will then follow up with you to ask for confirmation of your written test outcomes.

Will you accept international qualifications?
We will accept international qualifications as long as they are equivalent to the England and Northern Ireland framework. For information on European qualifications please visit the European Commission website.

Will I need to produce my qualification certificates?
Yes, candidates will be required to bring in their certificates or confirmation from the awarding body. Photocopies will not be accepted. It is the candidates’ responsibility to ensure that they have their certificates and failure to show them when required may result in withdrawal from the process.

What if I have lost my certificates?
If you have lost or no longer have your certificates then please visit Ofqual. It is the candidates’ responsibility to ensure that they get sufficient evidence of their qualifications within the timeframes of the process.

Why is there a requirement to swim in the criteria?
Water rescue is a specialist role that you may be asked to perform and we need Firefighters to be able to swim and be confident in water.

What is the minimum and maximum age to become a Firefighter?
The minimum age for joining the Fire Service is 18 years old, which you must be at the start of the training course. There is no maximum age limit.

Would somebody’s physical size have any bearing on their application?
A candidate’s physical size does not have any bearing on their application. This is a popular misconception due to the fact that there used to be restrictions on height, weight and chest expansion. Candidates are expected to pass strength and fitness tests as part of the process. These are at a level that is achievable by men and women of all different sizes and builds.

If I am a competent on-call Firefighter, do I need to complete the Community Risk sections of the FF Development Workbook in order to receive competent pay?
No, you would be employed as a competent Firefighter on competent pay. As an existing Firefighter you would not need to complete a full recruits course however we do recognise that on-call and external candidates will require some support before being placed on as watch. As such it is likely that you would spend a short amount of time at Training Centre (probably a week) where different departments would provide input (anything from Training Centre, Community Risk, Human Resources, CIST and welfare, National Resilience, Technical Fire Safety etc.) to help your transition onto a watch. This support will be sufficient to discharge any learning required from FF1 and 2.

Can I apply if I have a criminal record?
You will be able to apply and as part of the application, you are required to declare any convictions for offences that are not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. We will review unspent convictions on a case by case basis.

I am learning to drive at the moment, and have my test booked in a few months’ time. Can I still apply?
In order to apply you must have a valid driving licence that entitles you to drive in the UK without restrictions.

I have dyslexia; can I have additional time to complete the online tests?
You will be asked whether you require any reasonable adjustments on the application form. We will contact you about your reasonable adjustments and you may need to provide evidence of your dyslexia dependent on the adjustments you indicate you require.  

I have a disability. Can I still become a Firefighter?
Anyone who considers themselves to have a disability can apply to join the Fire Service. You will be asked if you have a disability as part of the recruitment process and to give details of the type of adjustments you may require in order to take part in the selection process and to fulfil the role of a Firefighter, should you be successful. We review each case on an individual basis, and will consider the reasonable adjustments that can be made to enable you to take part in the selection process and to fulfil the role of a Firefighter.

How fit do you have to be to become a Firefighter?
You will need to be reasonably fit, and be able to maintain this throughout your career as a Firefighter. You will be required to undertake a fitness test to determine your aerobic capacity is at least a VO2 max level of 42.

I have a medical condition which I think may exclude me. How do I find out?
You will need to declare your medical condition, giving as much information as possible on your declaration of health form. Our Occupational Health provider will get information from your GP and / or further Consultants etc as appropriate and each case is taken on its own consideration.

I wear glasses or have had laser eye surgery. Can I apply?
Yes. Firefighters require good vision in both eyes and part of the recruitment process will include an eye test. Our Occupational Health provider will determine whether your vision meets the standards to become a Firefighter. If you have had laser eye surgery, it is currently recommended that entry to the Service should be postponed for 12 months following surgery for stabilisation.

Will being colour blind prevent me from becoming a Firefighter?
Firefighters should have an appropriate level of colour perception. The recommended test procedure uses the Ishihara test as the initial screen. We will seek further specialist advice if you fail this screening to determine the severity and type of colour vision deficiency.

Can I choose which Fire Station I work at?
Unfortunately, no. Candidates will be placed at stations where there are vacancies. Firefighters may also be required to transfer and work at other stations across Herefordshire and Worcestershire during their employment.  

I have a beard for religious reasons; will I have to shave it off in order to be a Firefighter?
HWFRS respects everyone's religious beliefs but staff who may be working, or have the potential to work in a safety critical environment must adhere to certain personal safety procedures regarding facial hair.

As a Firefighter you will be required to wear a facial mask when you are wearing breathing apparatus. To ensure that the mask forms an air-tight seal around the face, it is necessary to keep the face shaven to prevent any dangerous contaminant from entering the facial mask. Therefore, facial hair should not interfere with the air-tight seal of the facial mask.

My faith requires me to allocate certain times of the day for prayer. Will this be accommodated?
Due to the nature of the role, there may be times when this is not possible. However, we actively support employees who wish to pray at work to balance their individual beliefs with operational needs. Fasting Firefighters must always ensure that both their colleagues and they remain safe by actively managing their energy and hydration levels where necessary.

Would I be able to keep my dreadlocks?
Yes. Dreadlocks (including braids, cornrows, plaits etc.) like any employee's hair, needs to be kept tidy and not interfere with your personal protective Firefighting uniform. These rules help keep Firefighters safe.

Are the recruitment standards different for men compared to women?
No. The assessments are the same for all candidates.

Is it acceptable to have tattoos or piercing?
For health and safety reasons, all piercings must be removed before commencing practical assessments and operational duty.

Tattoos are acceptable providing they could not be deemed as offensive. Tattoos are unacceptable if they are rude, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic or violent.

Can I have a second job?
We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees cannot engage in this without first obtaining written approval.