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The Wholetime Recruitment Process


There are eight stages to the recruitment process for wholetime firefighters:

Stage 1 - Online application form

Stage 2 – Online psychometric tests

Stage 3 – Eligibility assessment

Stage 4 - Practical assessments

Stage 5 - Interview

Stage 6 – Medical, Fitness and Swimming tests

Stage 7 – Pre-employment checks

Stage 8 – Training 

Stage 1 - Online application form

The Service is not currently recruiting wholetime firefighters, but when recruitment is open, a link to the online registration portal will be posted here.

The first step to becoming a firefighter starts with our online application form. This is where you fill in your personal details and explain how you meet the eligibility criteria. The application form also asks a number of questions designed to make you think about the role of a firefighter and asks for other key information regarding your suitability to become a firefighter. 

You must fully complete all sections before submitting the application.  The application form provided is the only accepted format of application; therefore please do not email a CV or covering letter with your application. Only application forms submitted by the date and time specified will be accepted. Any application forms submitted after the closing date and time will NOT be processed. 

If we receive a high volume of applications we may close the application window earlier than originally communicated. 

Applicants must ensure English and Mathematics qualifications equivalent to GCSE level 4 (Grade C) are specifically referenced plus one additional subject. If you have evidence of your qualifications this should be uploaded at the application stage and it will be required before you attend your interview. If you are unable to upload all your qualifications with your application form please email them to Recruitment@bedsfire.gov.uk. Not providing evidence of your qualifications may prevent your application from being progressed.

If you can’t upload copies of certificates they can be emailed to recruitment@bedsfire.gov.uk. If you don’t have, or can’t find the evidence at this stage you have time to request copies.  The originals will need to be produced prior to your interview.  Failure to provide them by interview will prevent your application being progressed.

Stage 2 – Online psychometric tests

This stage involves completing two timed assessments, you will require internet access from a computer to complete the assessments. 
You will be emailed a link to complete the assessments from our provider SHL, please check your junk mail as these emails sometimes end up in there.

The two tests are as follows - 

Verbal Reasoning
Verbal tests are designed to measure your ability to understand written information and to evaluate arguments about this information. 

Calculation tests are designed to assess your understanding of mathematical equations and your ability to solve problems.

Extra time can be added if a candidate has special requirements.  These should be identified on application in order to assist making the appropriate arrangements. Statements should be submitted to recruitment@bedsfire.gov.uk  

Practice tests are available online at the following location -https://www.shl.com/shldirect/en/practice-tests/ 

Hints and tips 

It is a time bound test so ensure that you have no distractions whiles completing the test.

Ensure you complete the practice tests first 

If the test freezes, contact the recruitment team immediately or in the morning if you have done the test late at night. 

Ideally use a computer to carry out the test 

Ensure that you have a pen, paper and calculator to hand when you complete the test

Ensure you are in a quiet room/area away from distractions

Consider completing the two tests at separate times

If you are successful at this stage of the process your application will be passed for an eligibility assessment. 

Stage 3 – Eligibility assessment

This stage of the process is when we check your application to ensure you have met the essential criteria for the role. 

In order to be eligible to apply you will need to evidence that you:

live within 10 miles of the boundary of the county of Bedfordshire (as determined by Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's mapping system). 

are eligible to work in the UK. 

have three GCSEs grade A* - C/ 4 - 9 including English Language and Mathematics or equivalent. (Please note that if they are equivalent, the equivalent to English Language and Mathematics grade A* - C must be included on your application)

have a full and current driving licence that entitles you to drive in the UK without restrictions by the date of your pre-employment checks.

will be 18 years of age by date of employment.

If you are successful at this stage of the process you will be invited to attend a Practical test assessment session. 

Stage 4 - Practical assessments

The next stage of the process is to invite successful applicants to one of practical assessment sessions. These sessions are run at Kempston Fire Station, Southfields Road, Kempston. Each session will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete. 

The role of a firefighter is physically demanding and so it is important for us to assess your ability to handle the situations and challenges you will face.   

Once you have arrived and signed in you will receive a briefing. For the assessments you will be wearing full fire kit including helmet, tunic, leggings, boots and gloves. You will begin the session by completing a warm up before undertaking the practical tests. There will be 7 practical assessments. These will include:

Ladder Climb - This aims to test your confidence with heights.

Casualty Evacuation - This aims to test your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination.

Ladder Lift - This aims to test your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination. 

Confined Space - Working in enclosed spaces is sometimes required when working as a firefighter. This test is designed to test your confidence, agility and stamina working in these conditions.

Equipment Assembly - This test is designed to assess your manual dexterity and co-ordination.

Equipment Carry - This aims to test your upper and lower body strength as well as your co-ordination. 

Ladder Extension – This test aims to test your upper body strength and your co-ordination. 

(Click on each title to view a short video about each assessment) 

Stage 5 - Interview

Upon successfully passing the practical tests you will be invited to attend an interview.  

Applicants will undertake a structured interview based on the firefighter job description and person specification.  The interview will last for approximately one hour and will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams.

A preparation booklet will be emailed to you when you are invited to this stage.

Qualifications check

You will be required to provide your qualifications evidence in advance of the interview.  If you are unable to provide the required evidence you will not be able to undertake the interview.

Stage 6 – Medical, fitness and swimming test


We need you to take a full medical assessment prior to joining us. We will need you to meet the nationally agreed health and fitness standards for the physically demanding and potentially hazardous role of a firefighter and to ensure the safety of yourself and others.
The assessment will be conducted at our Occupational Health Unit at our Headquarters in Kempston.

The tests that will be completed on the day will include:

A check of your blood pressure and pulse

Checks of your height, weight and body mass index

A hearing test

A vision test 

A test of your lung function

A drugs and alcohol test

Fitness Test

The aerobic fitness test will comprise of undertaking the Chester Treadmill Walk test.  More information can be found here: http://www.cfoa.org.uk/18322 You must complete this 12 minute test to achieve an aerobic fitness level of 42 VO2 max.

Swimming Test

You will be required to attend a swimming test to prove you are confident in the water.  Further details of this will be provided to you at the appropriate time within the selection process.

Stage 7 – Pre-employment checks

You’re almost there! We will now need to check your references.  We will also need to carry out an enhanced check under the Disclosure and Barring Service and complete a DVLA check. These checks will be carried out by the HR team.

If these clearances are deemed satisfactory at all of these areas you will be offered a place on the training course subject to there being a place available.

Stage 8 – Training 

You have made it! You will now begin initial training course to become a firefighter. Further details of what this training will involve are detailed below:

Pumps and ladders

Breathing apparatus and fire behaviour

Road traffic collision

Trauma care

Hazardous materials

Specialist rescue

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Beds Fire


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