Wholetime Firefighters

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service can offer you a satisfying, exciting and varied career as a wholetime (full-time) firefighter.Firefighters are called to advise on fire safety and when they are called to a “shout” they could be dealing with any type of major or minor incident: road, rail or air crashes, floods, chemical spills or rescuing people trapped in confined spaces. This requires a range of personal skills such as understanding, reliability, flexibility and the ability to work in a team.

If you think you’ve got what it takes and want a challenging career, then click on the plus buttons and read through the information below:

Summary of Post

  • To provide operational firefighting, rescue and humanitarian services for the benefit of the general public in and around the area specifically covered by the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, in accordance with the Fire Services Act 2004
  • To carry out routine duties as an operational firefighter at wholetime fire stations of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • The description of this job cannot be definitive. There will be times when other duties require the Post Holder to perform functions commensurate with the post


Reports to Watch Manager (Sub-Officer) and, when necessary the Crew Manager. Jointly responsible for others, as necessary, at operational incidents e.g. Breathing Apparatus Team Leader.

Conditions of Service

Members of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service work an average 42 hour week. The current shift pattern is 2 day shifts, followed by 2 night shifts then 4 days off duty. This cycle is then repeated. The day shifts are 0900 hours to 1800 hours and the night shifts are 1800 hours to 0900 hours. However, shift patterns are being reviewed as part of our integrated risk management plan 2015 – 19.  Any agreed change will be communicated as they are identified.

Paid leave when you join the service is in addition to public holidays, but if you are required to work on these days you are paid in double time and given time off in lieu.

Conditions of service will include: 20 days annual leave, 3 Long Service Days (after 3 years service), plus Public Holidays, firefighters contributory pension scheme, childcare vouchers scheme, and cycle to work scheme.

Nature and Scope

Duties can be summarised as:

  • Attending and dealing with incidents involving fire
  • Attending to incidents such as road traffic accidents, or similar, and to extricate victims or casualties and rendeFirefighters exercise in Maidenheadr the scene safe from further risk of fire
  • Instigating protective measures to safeguard members of the public from hazards resulting from dangerous buildings or structures, as required
  • Mitigate the effects of damage to property as a result of freak or exceptional climatic conditions, if safe to do so
  • Prevent the suffering to and effect the rescue of animals trapped by fire or other miscellaneous cause
  • Assist authorities at incidents involving on site hazardous substances or those in transportation and protect the public from the effects of those substances as part of routine service duties
  • Carry out responsibilities in connection with Fire Safety, as directed by Fire and Rescue Service Policy.
  • Carry out responsibilities in connection with Community Safety, as directed by fire and rescue service policy; complete all relevant paperwork associated with an operational firefighter’s duties including maintenance of records
  • Maintain standards of dress and personal appearance as required by Brigade Policy, reflecting the proper image of a uniformed service
  • Maintain a level of fitness in accordance with Brigade medical standards and Home Office Regulations covering operational firefighters
  • Carry out inspections of property and report of risks under the Fire Services Act 2004
  • Check, test and maintain equipment carried on appliances and record results in Station Records
  • Inspect and test fire hydrants in accordance with fire and rescue service policy
  • Host and guide members of the public visiting fire service premises.
  • Carry out routine miscellaneous duties, as directed by a Supervisory Officer

Generic Features

Operational: to carry out duties as part of the fire and rescue service’s incident command system.

Health and safety: to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, compliance with health and safety requirements, by taking reasonable care for your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what you do or do not do; and to co-operate fully with health and safety initiatives, guidance and instructions.

Specialities: to undertake any special role or assignment as required as a member of a specialist or projects team.

Training: to attend such training courses or seminars as required to maintain the level of knowledge and skills required by the post.

Environmental: to conserve nature and ecological processes by promoting actions to reduce pollution and wasteful exploitation of resources and energy.

Discipline: to take part, as required, in any disciplinary procedures.

Skills and Knowledge

  • Must satisfy physical requirements of an operational firefighter, as defined by the Home Office Regulations (essential skill)
  • Successful completion of the recruit fire and rescue service course (essential skill)
  • Ability to deal with the general public (desirable skill)

Dealing with Emergencies

Technology plays a major role in helping firefighters to tackle emergencies as efficiently as possible. For example, at fire and rescue headquarters, the Control room computers store street plans, details of high risk buildings and the latest information on hazardous materials. This ensures that as soon as an emergency call is received –  controllers can immediately access what appliances are required.

Firefighters in breathing apparatusOn attending a fire, the firefighters have to make a very quick assessment of the situation – as materials used in homes and factories change, so does the way a fire is tackled.

There is also the hazard of toxic fumes and heavy smoke which can be generated from the modern materials – for example foam filled furniture.

This makes tackling a fire much more difficult and firefighters always go fully protected with equipment such as breathing apparatus as well as personal radio sets to keep them in contact with their colleagues at the scene, or back at fire and rescue headquarters.

Firefighters will also have a range of other equipment at their disposal depending on the incident to which they have been called: cutting and lifting gear to deal with traffic accidents; protective suits for use at chemical spills and thermal imaging cameras to help locate victims in smoke filled rooms.

Fire Safety: A Key Area of Work

Specialist training for officers involved in fire safety is provided at the national Fire Safety College in Gloucestershire and within individual fire and rescue services. Many fire officers also undertake professional qualifications in fire engineering, and there is the opportunity to study for other relevant academic qualifications, such as the membership of the Institution of fire engineers. Training in fire safety is critical to much of the day to day work of a firefighter.

Factories, offices, shops, hotels, boarding houses and railway premises are all required to comply with certain fire precaution measures, which include providing adequate means of escape. It is the job of the fire and rescue service to ensure on behalf of the Fire Authority that these requirements are being followed and effectively maintained. Fire and rescue service’s also provide specialist fire prevention advice to local authorities which are responsible for licensing buildings such as: theatres, cinemas, clubs, and sports grounds. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and many other institutions also need professional advice regarding fire safety.

Another important area of work is promoting fire safety, through education and publicity, to the general public. Local fire and rescue services are often renowned for the enthusiasm and ingenuity they devote to these education and publicity initiatives.

General Requirements

To join the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service there are certain physical, medical and educational requirements you will have to satisfy, including statutory age limits.

  • Have a good level of all-round fitness
  • Take both general written and practical tests
  • Satisfy a criminal records check

Eyesite Standards (Berkshire Only)

Local Authority Revised Eyesight Standards

  • Use of aids to vision are possible at the recruit stage
  • 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 for both Wholetime and Retained applicants
  • An upper hypermetropic limit of +3.00 should be retained
  • Testing for myopic corrections is no longer required

Experience / Skills / Qualification / Other

Essential Factors

  • Must satisfy physical requirements of an operational firefighter, as defined by the Home Office Regulations
  • Successful completion of the Recruit Fire Service course
  • Understands and respects diversity and adopts a fair and ethical approach to others

Desirable Factors

  • Ability to deal with the general public
  • Work related to community service
  • Experience of practical trade

General Intelligence (Level / Reasoning Ability)

  • Should be a good communicator and self-motivated with the ability to think for oneself
  • Average level of intelligence required due to the nature of the varied work expected of a firefighter

Special Aptitudes

Essential Factors

  • Experience of working with people
  • Promote and maintain a desire to learn
  • Be able to control actions of others
  • Must be aware of danger and react responsively

Desirable Factors

  • Medical/First-Aid skills
  • Ability to learn, absorb and retain theoretical, technical and practical knowledge

Interests (Post Related)
The post would suit people who are committed to helping others within a disciplined public service.

Disposition (Personal Requirements Suiting Post)

  • Ability to deal with the general public
  • Maintain a calm, enthusiastic and energetic but approachable manner
  • A strong character is essential in order to effectively handle the many demanding and dangerous tasks set for a firefighter
  • Able to work as a team, but be prepared to work on own initiative. The ability to operate unsupervised is therefore important

Other Desirable Factors

  • Current driving licence.
  • LGV driving licence.
First phase

Firefighter in Personal Protective EquipmentIf you join the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to begin with you will receive basic training.

This will provide the training required to start operational duties in the rank of firefighter.  You should be aware that the training course will involve active participation and due to the nature of the course this can be quite intense.  There may also be occasions where homework is required to ensure that you keep up to date with training material.

You will be a responsible member of a closely knit and well organised team – where there is danger and therefore teamwork really counts. Your life and the lives of others depend on it.

It is not a job which can be undertaken lightly – but can provide a sense of real achievement and value. There is also plenty of scope for individual potential to be realised and a career to be developed.

Throughout your career

After your induction training, you will receive further training as part of your operational duties. We will also offer you a continuous in-service training programme to ensure your potential is maximised and that you are kept up to date with the latest firefighting and specialist techniques.

Should you be promoted you will undertake courses at a number of specialist training venues to broaden your management skills and build on your existing knowledge of firefighting and rescue.

If you opt for a specialist career path, such as Fire Safety or Training, there are courses available in each of those areas too.


Opportunities for promotion are good, and you can begin to take on extra responsibilities – involving you in more specialist duties such as fire safety, fire investigation and research and development.

You will begin as a recruit firefighter and can work your way up through the organisation through gaining experience and completing the relevant assessments.

Firefighters train with South Central Ambulance Service staff

Progression through the ranks is normally as follows:

  • Firefighter
  • Crew Manager
  • Watch Manager
  • Station Manager
  • Group Manager
  • Area Manager
  • Assistant Chief Fire Officer
  • Deputy Chief Fire Officer
  • Chief Fire Officer

Qualifications in Management and Command

If you reach the most senior management posts, you would be expected to attend management and command training courses. These would provide you with the management and leadership skills you would need to help you handle emergencies and would also provide the management and administrative skills that are needed in all large organisations.

Senior fire officers may also be called upon, as part of their duties, to work with representatives from local authorities and central government departments; to negotiate with fire service unions; administer fire service discipline, supervise brigade budgets, and represent the fire and rescue service in press and television interviews.

Communities and Local Government departments, which inspect fire and rescue services and provide advice to Chief Fire Officers, also draws its members from the fire and rescue service.

 Fitness Training Advice

Please refer to the download section below to obtain documents and guidance which you may find useful.

The role of a firefighter can, at times, place great physical demands on the body. To be able to cope with these demands you will need a higher than average level of fitness. During the recruitment process your aerobic fitness and muscular strength and endurance will be tested. The aim of this guide is to provide some general guidance on improving the elements of fitness that will be tested.

Physical preparation may help you pass the physical tests during the recruitment process, but there can be no guarantee that by following this or any other advice you will pass the physical tests.

Participation in any physical training programme is undertaken purely on a voluntary basis and the fire and rescue service accepts no responsibility for any injury caused as a result.

This will also help prepare you to successfully complete the training programme which requires you to have a high level of fitness and commitment should you be offered a place on the training course.

If you have any doubts about your health or ability to take part in a physical training programme you are advised to consult your doctor prior to starting your training.

Always consult an appropriately qualified fitness adviser / instructor if you are not familiar with any exercises or techniques detailed in this guide.

General Training Guidelines

• Do not train if you have a cold or feel unwell
• If at any time you experience pain, dizziness or nausea during your training session STOP. If pain persists consult your doctor
• After an injury only resume training when advised to do so, as continuing to exercise could aggravate the injury further and prevent you from attending the selection tests
• Always warm up thoroughly before your main activity and cool down and stretch at the end of your session
• To avoid dehydration make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after training
• Always wear suitable clothing and footwear for the activity you are participating in, and make sure the environment and equipment you are using are safe

Download Training Advice

Download the complete Fitness Training Advice document.

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


FireFit is the national steering group on health, fitness and well-being within the UK fire and rescue service, their mission is to contribute to the development of fitness and health with the fire service. Visit their website www.firefitsteeringgroup.co.uk to find out more about the national firefighter selection tests and appropriate training programmes.

Please click below to watch a video showing some examples of fitness training exercises at RBFRS:

Wholetime firefighters

Other useful information

The following list details some frequently asked questions about trainee firefighters.

I am colour blind, can I still apply?
Individuals with protanopia, deuteranopia, monochromatism and tritanopia/tritanomaly are normally deemed unfit for service as a firefighter. Individuals with protanomaly rarely meet the required standards while deuteronamalous individuals should be safe for firefighting. Whilst diagnosis of the defect is an important part of the assessment, subsequent confirmation of severity is essential to determine whether they are colour safe. Should you wish to discuss this further please contact the recruitment department by emailing recruitment@rbfrs.co.uk.

How fit do I need to be a firefighter?
You will be required to have a good level of all-round fitness. Details of the physical test are available above and please refer to the fitness training link for additional information.

Where can I get more information?
All the information should be available on our website, however, should you have any further queries please email recruitment@rbfrs.co.uk.

Salaries in the Fire Service with effect from 1 July 2016.

Trainee £22,237 £10.15 £15.23
Development £23,162 £10.58 £15.87
Competent £29,638 £13.53 £20.30
Crew Manager
Development £31,501 £14.38 £21.57
Competent £32,858 £15.00 £22.50
Watch Manager
Development £33,569 £15.33 £23.00
Competent A £34,502 £15.75 £23.63
Competent B £36,745 £16.78 £25.17
Station Manager
Development £38,220 £17.45 £26.18
Competent A £39,367 £17.98 £26.97
Competent B £42,154 £19.25 £28.88
Group Manager
Development £44,018 £20.10
Competent A £45,338 £20.70
Competent B £48,796 £22.28
Area Manager
Development £51,677 £23.60
Competent A £53,226 £24.30
Competent B £56,685 £25.88

More senior posts attract varying rates of pay.

*O/T = Overtime Rate

You may find the information in the following documents useful:

Download Interview Tips [PDF]

Download the Recruitment Process [PDF]

Download Ability Test Tips [PDF]

Download Get the Full Picture (PDF)

Download Start A New Life – Save Someone Else’s (PDF)

Download Information For Fulltime Firefighter Applicants (PDF)

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is an equal opportunities employer and complies with the requirements of legislation covering equal opportunities. Applications to join the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service are welcomed from all men and women who meet the physical and medical requirements for entry. If you are accepted for a job, you will be entitled to equal consideration in the matters of training, career development and promotion, whether you are a man or a woman, and whatever your racial or ethnic background or marital status.

Maidenhead firefighters train at a road traffic collision demonstration

 Wholetime Firefighter Vacancies – Please note this is now closed and application packs are no longer available.