How to apply: Retained (Part-Time) Firefighter

The selection process consists of the same written tests, fitness tests, interview and medical that are used for regular wholetime firefighters.

Application Process

Application packs can be obtained from the Human Resources department or alternatively from your local retained fire station. Returned application forms will be checked to ensure eligibility, and that there is a demand for the cover times offered. You will then be invited to the selection tests, which take place every few months at the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service Training Centre in Whitley Wood, Reading, Berkshire.

Qualifying Criteria

You must be aged 18 or over, and  you must live or work within 6 to 8 minutes of the fire station at which you would like to work. Before being offered employment, you will be required to produce documentary evidence of your entitlement to work in the UK, in accordance with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. A full driving licence is not required before employment, but without one a Firefighter cannot progress to Competent status and pay.

Declaration of Offences

If you have a criminal record this will not necessarily disqualify you from employment. All applications are considered on merit and in particular, whether the offence has a bearing on your suitability for employment as a firefighter. However Firefighters do need to have a high level of self-discipline, and be people in whom the public can have complete confidence.

You will therefore be required to declare any conviction which is not yet “spent” within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and any charges that are pending. A Criminal Records Bureau check will be made.

Further guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act can be obtained via the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. Visit their website at for more information.


Testing Dates

Current testing and medical dates are to be confirmed. Please ensure that all applications are completed and submitted before the published due date.

Written Ability Tests:
To be confirmed

Physical Tests:
To be confirmed

Medical Dates:
To be confirmed

The tests are the same as for wholetime firefighters but may be conducted in a different order. They consist of:

01 APPLICATION FORM – questions in the application form relating to Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQAs).

02 WRITTEN ABILITY TESTS – further information about these tests can be found by consulting the Practice Booklet.

03 PHYSICAL TESTS – We are currently reviewing the selection tests undertaken and we will be including additional tests to examine resilience, behaviours and team working at the physical test stage.

The new process is that candidates who are successful in the written tests and questionnaire will be invited to take a series of tests designed to assess fitness, strength, stamina, coordination, ability to understand and apply information, dexterity, and ability to work at heights and in confined spaces:

ladder climb<

Ladder Climb – Candidates wear a safety harness and ascend two thirds of the way up a 13.5 metre ladder and take a leg-lock. They are then asked to lean backwards and outstretch their arms to the sides, and then whilst looking over their shoulder they are to say out loud what symbol is being shown by the assessor at ground level. This will test confidence at heights.


Ladder LiftLadder Lift – Candidates raise the bar of a ladder lift simulator to the required height with 15kg of weight placed on the simulator cradle, which gives a total lift load of 24kg. This will test upper and lower body strength and co-ordination.


Enclosed Space

Enclosed Space – Candidates put on a facemask with un-obscured vision although this will be in a dark environment.  They will make their way through a crawl and walkway. Once inside the crawl/walkway they have their vision obscured and return to the start. This will test confidence, agility and stamina.


Equipment Assembly

Equipment Assembly – Candidates are given a demonstration of the test before having to assemble and disassemble a number of components to make an item of equipment which will test manual dexterity.



Drill Ground Assessment:

Candidates are required to complete a series of tasks that simulate firefighting activities such as carrying equipment, running out hose and casualty evacuation, within a set time. This is a test of physical fitness.

Click here to view a video showing a full technical run through.

Equipment Carry

Casualty Evacuation

Candidates who successfully complete the physical tests will be invited to interview.The main aim of the interview is to find out about you and to gather examples of when and how you have used skills that are important for potential firefighters and why you want to be a firefighter.  You should answer based on your personal experience and apply relevant examples.  Guidance on the interview is available in the practice booklet.

All applicants successful at interview are required to undergo a medical examination, and it will be a matter for the Fire Authority’s Occupational Health Physician to decide whether any individual is fit to undertake fire fighting duties, allowing for any reasonable adjustments that may be made in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Minimum eyesight standards must be met. Corrected visual acuity should be 6/9 binocularly, and a minimum of 6/12 in the worse eye. The minimum uncorrected vision for recruits should be 6/18 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worse. There is an upper hypermetropic (long-sighted) limit of +3.00, and colour vision must reach the required standard.

Hearing and lung function will also be tested. (This medical examination will include the Chester Step Test). And you will undergo screening for use of illegal drugs and alcohol misuse as part of your medical.

If you have any of the following conditions you should consider carefully whether the nature of the work and the attendance pattern, (which includes the possibility of very lengthy hours at major incidents), would be detrimental to your health:-

  • Significant joint injury or disease, especially if it affects the back or knees.
  • Chronic respiratory problem, e.g. asthma.
  • A history of hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac or circulatory disease.
  • Contact dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema.
  • Vertigo, claustrophobia or acrophobia (fear of heights).

Your medical records from your General Practitioner will be required, for which you will be asked to give consent at the appropriate time.

Find out more about the Chester Treadmill Test | Chester Treadmill Test programme

If you are offered the position of a Retained Firefighter you will be required to undertake an initial training programme. This training programme will consist of 3 Wednesday evenings and a two-week intensive programme, Monday to Friday only.

If you are appointed as a Retained (On Call) Firefighter you will be required, once you have completed your initial training, to attend the station each Monday night for drill practice as part of your contract and attend any further courses as required.