The most effective way to become a Firefighter is to approach the selection process with the intention of matching the Personal Qualities and Attributes that are relevant to the role at every stage. Whether you are completing the application form, tackling the Firefighter tests or sitting the interview, this is the most effective way to get this highly sought after job.

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Watch the following short video by Richard McMunn on how to prepare for the Firefighter selection process in order to guarantee success:


The majority of the firefighter selection process is structured around what are known as the Firefighter Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQAs).

When you make your application to join the Fire Service you should be supplied with a copy of these important qualities. If you are not provided with them you can quite easily obtain a copy of them by searching for them on the internet, as they are freely available within the public domain.

These important qualities form the basis of the role for an operational firefighter and therefore it is imperative that you use them as a basis for your preparation. When you complete the firefighter application form you should have a copy of the PQAs next to you. When you prepare for the interview you should also have a copy of the PQAs next to you.

You will be assessed in relation to the qualities throughout the varying sections of the selection process, from the initial application form through to the interview. Therefore, it is essential that you understand what the PQAs involve.

The Firefighter Personal Qualities essentially cover the following areas:

- Demonstrating a commitment to Diversity and Integrity;
- Being open to change within the Fire Service;
- Demonstrating a level of confidence and resilience;
- Having an ability to work with other people;
- Being an effective communicator;
- Having the ability to solve problems;
- Being aware of situations around you;
- Demonstrating a commitment to excellence.

Because these qualities are so important to your preparation when applying to the Fire Service, we need to take a further look at each of them individually. Read them carefully and ask yourself whether you would be capable of demonstrating the requirements of each quality:

Demonstrating a commitment to Diversity and Integrity
If you want to become a firefighter you should be able to treat people fairly, both at work and within the community. Having an awareness of your community is very important to the firefighter’s role. When you deal with people, both at work and within the community that you are serving, you should always maintain an open approach and accept differences such as social background, age, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation and physical appearance.

Being open to change within the Fire Service
The Fire Service is a changing organisation. As with any organisation that has a desire to continually improve, change is a must. In order for that change to be implemented successfully, firefighters need to be accepting of it. Before you apply to join the Fire Service, it is important you understand that there is a need for change, as there is in any organisation.

During your career as a firefighter there will be many different changes to working practices that you will need to embrace. As technology and safety procedures/equipment improves, so will the need for working practices and procedures within the Fire Service.

Demonstrating a level of confidence and resilience
As you can imagine, as a firefighter you will attend some tough incidents. These incidents will test your physical strength, your emotional stability and your ability to remain calm when all around you is going wrong.

When people are leaving burning buildings, you will be running in, using your skills and your equipment to save life and property. Therefore, with all of this in mind, you must be able to remain in control of your emotions during emergency incidents.

Having an ability to work with other people
As you can imagine, firefighters have to work in teams. The size of the team will depend on a number of factors including the nature of the task in hand. However, as a rule of thumb they usually work in teams ranging from 2 to 20 people. Therefore, having an ability to work effectively as a member of a team is crucial to the role. In order for a team to work effectively and efficiently the members of that team need to have a positive relationship.

They don’t necessarily have to personally like each other, but they need to have a good, strong working relationship. As a firefighter you will work with many different teams including members of different services such as Police and Ambulance crews. As with other members of the emergency services, you will need to have an ability to reassure and calm members of the public.

How to become a Firefighter Become a Firefighter

Being an effective communicator
As a firefighter you will be communicating with a wide variety of people ranging from members of your team through to members of the public at emergency incidents. How you communicate to these different groups is important. For example, if you were giving a Community Fire Safety talk to a group of school children, then you would need to adapt your communication style to suit children instead of, for example, a group of mature students. You must be able to communicate with small groups of people and also large groups.

At emergency incidents you will be required to send important messages over the radio, either to other members of your team or to the central control that deals with all vehicle movements and deployments. It is imperative that once you have sent a message you check to see that the other person has received it. Checking and confirming that messages have been received and understood is an integral part of a firefighter’s role.

Having the ability to solve problems
Firefighters are generally excellent problem solvers. They have a unique knack of finding ways to solve problems with innovative and practical solutions. They can usually generate more than one solution to a problem and they can carry out their work in a logical and systematic manner despite the pressure of an incident.
As a firefighter you will need to be able to remember your training and procedures whilst using your skills to resolve problems quickly and competently. You will need to be safe at all times and work in accordance with health and safety procedures in order to minimise the risk to yourself, your work colleagues and the general public.

Being aware of situations around you
Firefighters must be able to work safely at all times, both at the fire station and also during operational incidents. During your training you will learn the concept of ‘risk assessment’. This is a relatively simple process that is designed to protect you and your work colleagues from the hazards that are around you whilst at work. You will need to keep checking your working environment for the dangers that are present and then take steps to minimise the risks. You will then need to inform the rest of your team about the dangers so that they are safe from harm.

Demonstrating a commitment to excellence
Throughout your career as a firefighter you will need to look for ways to improve the standards of working. Being committed to delivering an excellent service is all part and parcel of the job. You will need to be comfortable with carrying out every day routine tasks and understand that they must be done competently in order to maintain high standards.

You will operate under specific discipline procedures and have an ability to work unsupervised without being constantly checked by your supervisory manager. In essence, you will need to be committed to delivering a highly professional service to the public.

So, as you can see, the personal qualities that you will be required to demonstrate during the firefighter selection process are comprehensive. The PQAs will form the basis of your preparation. When completing the application form and preparing for the interview, make sure you have a copy of the PQAs next to you.


I personally spent 17 years in Kent Fire and Rescue Service, during which time I spent approximately 5 years at the Training Centre. During this time I was responsible for recruiting new Firefighters. This was a great job as I got to see the potentail new recruits for the first time during the Firefighter Interview.

The interview itself is rather tough to pass, which is in part due to the fact that you can not easily predict the interview questions. Having said that, if you know someone who has themselves assessed people during the Firefighter interview then you are on to a winner.

Here is a list of potential Firefighter Interview questions that I recommend you prepare for:

Q1. Why do you want to become a firefighter?

Q2. What does the role of a firefighter consist of?

Q3. What can you tell me about the Fire Service you are applying to join?

Q4. What qualities are required to become a firefighter in the UK?

Q5. Describe a typical working day of a firefighter?

Q6. How many Fire Stations are there in this county?

Q7. Who is the Brigade Manager?

Q8. Describe a time when you worked as part of a team?

Q9. Describe a time when you worked to achieve a difficult task with others?

Q10. What are the main components of a team?

Q11. Describe a time when you worked under pressure?

Q12. Describe a time when you communicated an important message to other peopl?

Q13. Tell me about your local community? 

Q14. What have you done to prepare for the firefighter selection process?

Q15. How do you keep yourself fit?

The above sample questions are just a small number that I would recommend you prepare for before you attend the firefighter interview.

You should also work to improve your communication skills as this is another area you will be assessed against.

I would recommend that you construct your answers using the STAR method. This is basically situation, task, action and result. If you construct your answers in this manner you are far more likely to score higher in the assessable area of effective communication.

I also recommend that you find out as much as possible about your local community. If you are really serious about becoming a firefighter then I would also recommend that you spend some time working within your local community. This will look good on your CV when you go to the firefighter interview and it will also give you more knowledge about the community in which you will serve in as a firefighter.

If you follow the above steps you will be preparing well for the firefighter interview. 




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