Become a wholetime firefighter

Ready to take on the challenge? We can’t wait to have you on our crew.

But first, you’ll want to know what’s involved.

Female firefighter in a train doorway

Who we’re looking for

You don’t need to have any previous experience firefighting or be a weightlifting champion. Just the passion to protect and help your community, with a good level of fitness.

We’ll ignite your spark of interest and train you to become a fully-fledged firefighter.

Essential criteria

You must:

  • be at least 18-years-old at the start of employment, but you can apply before then. There is no maximum age limit for applications
  • have no unspent criminal convictions at the time you start employment. Unspent criminal convictions at the time of application can be discussed at the first contact meeting
  • have the right to work in the UK
  • be able to drive at the start of employment. You can apply before you have a licence.
  • have good eyesight so you can carry out your role safely. If you’re unsure that you meet the visual standards, you can book an appointment with your optician, using this visual standards checklist. As part of the application process, you’ll do a LogMAR test which assesses visual performance in low contrast conditions
  • have a good level of strength and fitness. Find out more about the fitness requirements
  • have a good grasp of maths and English. You do not need any formal qualifications to apply but you will be tested on this during the application process. 

Terms of work

Salary

An apprentice firefighter gets an annual salary of £24,191 (gross).

When you’re in development, this will rise to £25,198, and when you’re considered ‘competent’ (usually after two years of working and training), you will be on a salary of £32,244 per year. You will also be eligible to join the firefighters’ pension scheme.

Working pattern

Typically, you'll be working 42 hours per week in shifts. This includes a combination of day and night shifts, followed by rest days before your next sessions of work.

The shift pattern is currently two day shifts and two night shifts followed by four days off.

Day shifts are currently 9am to 6pm and night shifts are 6pm to 9am.

Location

You can apply if you do not live within the Devon and Somerset area, as long as you are prepared to travel for elements of the selection process, and will be able to put measures in place to ensure that you can attend work at your allocated station if successful.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to choose where you are stationed. We will do our best to place our new employees at stations nearest to them, but this might not always be possible as we may need to fill vacancies at specific locations.

Training and development

Following your induction, you will attend firefighting training either at Severn Park Fire and Rescue Training Centre in Avonmouth, Bristol, or the Academy Training Centre in Plympton. Training starts with an initial core skills course which is residential and will last 12 weeks. Read more about our training courses.

You'll be expected to take part in regular training so that you can safely and efficiently carry out all your work and operate equipment, and you'll be paid for attendance at any training courses.

There are plenty of opportunities to progress in the Service. Many of our firefighters choose to serve the community throughout their time in the Service, which is great. But there are many opportunities for promotion once you’re fully skilled, with different roles and ranks right up to Chief Fire Officer.

Probation

The legal probation period is six months, but the time it takes to become a fully competent firefighter can vary from station to station and is also dependent on ability. Typically it can take up to two years to become a competent firefighter.

Common questions

Is there a minimum height requirement to become a firefighter?

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There is no minimum height requirement to become a firefighter.

Can I apply if I have a disability?

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Yes! Although being a firefighter requires a good standard of fitness and practical ability, we’ll consider everyone on an individual basis and support you to reach your full potential.

We are a Disability Confident Employer. We are fully committed to:

  • Ensuring our recruitment process is inclusive, fair and accessible,
  • Communicating and promoting our vacancies,
  • Anticipating and providing reasonable adjustments, as required.

At the application stage, we will ask you to disclose if you have a disability and outline any special requirements you would like to request during the process. Reasonable adjustments will be considered.

The Service is unable to assess your individual health until the medical stage and therefore would not be in a position to confirm your suitability until this point.

Find out more about how we support people with disabilities

I have dyslexia, what support is in place?

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We have a dedicated support group for people with dyslexia, and will support you during your application process and throughout your time in the Service. Find out more about how we support people with dyslexia.

Can I apply to be a firefighter if I’m a woman?

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We actively encourage women to join the service! Find out more about how we support women in the Service

I have been a fire cadet, will this help me in the application process?

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Absolutely! All the skills you learn as a fire cadet will give you a flavour of being a firefighter, as well as lots of essential skills like teamwork and leadership.

What’s the competition like to become a firefighter?

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Becoming a firefighter is a very desirable job, and we normally receive a high number of applications for wholetime positions. But it could be you, so don't let this put you off from applying!

How safe is being a firefighter?

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You may feel worried about your safety in the Service, which is completely understandable. We care deeply about the safety of our firefighters and will not put them at unnecessary risk. We work incredibly hard to make sure everyone has the knowledge and expertise to keep themselves and others safe.

Can firefighters have beards?

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Firefighters must make sure their facial hair is maintained so that it doesn't get in the way of any PPE.

I have tattoos and body piercings, will this affect my suitability for the role?

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Tattoos are acceptable provided they could not be deemed as offensive. Bear in mind that what is and is not offensive can be subjective. During the selection process and if you are subsequently employed by us, you will be asked to ensure the tattoo is covered if it is deemed offensive or gives an image contrary to the Service values. Tattoos are unacceptable if they are rude, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic or violent.

Piercings will not affect your suitability for the role, as long as you are prepared to remove them before commencing operational duty for health and safety reasons. The use of tongue studs is prohibited due their potential to break, become dislodged and become a catch hazard in the windpipe or gullet.

I have asthma, will that prevent me from becoming a firefighter?

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Asthma does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a firefighter, however, firefighters are exposed to smoke and other toxicants as part of their job, which are irritating to the lungs and upper respiratory tract and can exacerbate the symptoms of wheezing in firefighters with asthma. Your condition will be assessed at the medical stage, after which a decision will be made as to your suitability for the role.

Do you accept transfers from other UK Fire and Rescue Services?

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We do not currently accept transfer requests from other Services. If you are currently a wholetime firefighter for another Service and would like to work for us, you will need to apply through this process.

I have points on my licence. Does that mean I can't apply?

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No. However each application will be looked at in terms of the number and reason for the points and a decision will be made on whether you are ready to be considered for the role at this time. Furthermore, if successful in the role, there is a restriction on driving vehicles under blue light conditions if you have more than six points on your licence.