The selection process in becoming a firefighter

Our recruitment campaign has currently been paused. We are however continuing to encourage applications to support one of our on call locations.

There are five stages in our recruitment and selection process for the role of firefighter. They are:

Stage 1 - Application and online ability tests

Once you apply online via our recruitment hub and complete the required information, you will be sent to the online ability tests. These are:

  • Situational judgement assessment: measures your judgement and decision making skills in situations that are typical in the Fire and Rescue Service. No knowledge or experience as a firefighter is required to complete this test and no prior revision is needed.
  • Verbal reasoning: measures your ability to understand and interpret information. You will be shown a passage of text and asked to answer questions to demonstrate your ability to interpret and analyse the verbal information.
  • Calculation: designed to assess your understanding of mathematical equations and your ability to solve problems in a timed environment.
  • SHL Workplace Safety Questionnaire: Measures the behaviours and experiences that underlie successful and safe performance with more individually-oriented roles or work environments. The solution assesses behaviours and competencies foundational to safety including: following policies and procedures; wearing required protective equipment; safely operating vehicles and/or machinery; taking action in unsafe situations; and producing high quality work.

These online assessments are timed. If you require any reasonable adjustments, then please make the Recruitment Hub aware prior to undergoing the online assessments via email

Font size and screen colour can be changed by the candidate to suit their individual needs.

SHL online assessments are a supporter of neurodiversity. These differences can include those labelled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others.

Please note: candidates will be asked to complete a verification test during the recruitment process. This will involve the candidate being expected to complete one of the above assessments conducted under supervision. This ensures the assessment reflects your genuine ability and you are not at an unfair advantage by receiving help from others.

Practice for these assessments is important to ensure that the candidate is aware of what to expect - a link to the practice assessments can be found here

For any candidates who do not posses GCSE Maths and English (grade C and above) or those wishing to re-take the qualification, courses for both subjects are provided by Surrey Adult Learning. Resources are also provided under the useful links section.

Stage 2 - Interview

If you pass the online assessments, we will invite you to an interview (group discussion).

At the interview stage you will be assessed against the person specification as outlined in the job profile (attached below) as well as the Leadership Behavioural framework.

Stage 3 - Fitness and physical testing

If successful in the group discussion, you will be asked to attend fitness and physical assessments.

Firefighting can be a physically demanding and hazardous activity. A good level of fitness is key to ensure operational safety and effectiveness. The fitness assessment will be in the form of a bleep test, which is a multi-stage fitness test in which you must do 20 metre shuttle runs in time with bleeps. You will be expected to achieve level 8.8. The physical assessments are designed to assess your level of physical ability, aptitude and manual dexterity in line with requirements of the role. For more details on the tests involved, check out our page on the Fitness tests for becoming a fire fighter.

Stage 4 - Medical examination

Firefighters are exposed to extreme physical and psychological demands. The medical screening for firefighters is rigorous. We comply with all relevant statutory provisions and national guidance to ensure risk is reduced as is reasonably practicable. This means a medical condition giving rise to reasonably foreseeable occupational risk would not be acceptable.

Medical suitability is determined by an individual assessment. For practical reasons, this cannot be undertaken until the later stages of the recruitment process. The nature and effect of medical conditions may vary. It is therefore not possible to confirm medical conditions that would be unacceptable prior to an individual medical assessment. However, if you have a medical condition or a history of a medical condition which might present problems, the following general guidance should help you consider your medical suitability before applying.

A medical condition or functional limitation which, despite any reasonable adjustments, gives rise to an increased occupational risk of the following is unacceptable:

  • Sudden collapse or sudden incapacitation
  • Impaired judgement
  • Altered awareness
  • Substantial physical injury / ill health
  • Psychological injury / ill health
  • Any other effect which would pose a substantial health and safety risk to yourself or others.

The individual assessment will involve due consideration of any opinions or medical reports you may wish to submit. However, the decision on the significance of any risks identified will rest with the Fire and Rescue Service.

Healthy weight

A healthy weight is important. Being underweight, overweight and obese can affect a firefighter's performance and safety. Your height and weight, along with the calculation of your Body Mass Index (BMI) may be measured as part of the medical examination.

The following table shows relevant BMI ranges and weight categories:

Weight BMI (Kg/m2)
Underweight Less than 18.5
Healthy weight 18.5 - 25
Overweight 25 - 30
Obese More than 30

Stage 5 - Appointment

An offer of employment is conditional upon receipt of satisfactory references and a basic DBS check. Should the Service receive unsatisfactory reference or DBS disclosure, the offer of employment may be withdrawn. Successful candidates will be enrolled onto a Level 3 Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship programme generally tend to last between 24-27 Months.

'Have a Go' sessions

Why not join us and work towards becoming #SurreyFireFit ?

We are delighted to advise that sessions will resume at Guildford Fire Station on Monday 9 August 2021 from 6:30pm. If you would like to take part, simply pop along or email the Recruitment Hub ( for more information.

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