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Become a London firefighter

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Below you can learn more about what it takes to become a firefighter in the capital. 

If it appeals to you, then please get in touch with the WorkPath team to book a place on our upcoming information day. Call 0207 364 0626 or email employers@towerhamlets.gov.uk to register.

Is firefighting right for you?

Firefighters come in all ages, shapes and sizes. While you do have to be physically fit, good technique can really help. Through training, you’ll learn how to tackle physical tasks correctly and, above all safely. Your natural physical build could be your strength when it comes to certain situations, like being small and agile enough to manoeuvre in tight spaces. 

Only 8% of the role is responding to fires and other incidents. Most of your time is spent preventing emergencies through school visits, household visits and public building checks. When you do respond to an emergency, you’ll be trained to tackle it smartly and safely, never acting alone.

This is a career, not just a job, and you’ll never be stuck doing the same thing day after day. Not only can you progress with promotion, but you can diversify your role and become a specialist within the organisation in the following areas:

  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Fire Investigation
  • Regulatory Fire Safety
  • Tactical Advisor Rescue
  • And many more specialities

How much could you earn and what hours would you have to work?

As a Trainee Firefighter you’ll earn a salary of £26,211 pa including London Weighting. Once fully qualified, your salary will increase to £34,975 p.a.

Firefighters also receive great benefits including a pension scheme, childcare support, interest-free loans, training opportunities and a flexible working arrangement.

Firefighting’s in favour of work-life balance. While you will need to work irregular shift patterns, you may find that it actually allows for more flexibility in your everyday life. This means there is lots of flexibility for additional employment or part time study.

The current shift system is based around 4 shifts (2 x 10.5 hour days and 2 x 13.5 hour nights) followed by 96 hours (four days) off duty.

  • Shift 1: 09:30 – 20:00 (day)
  • Shift 2: 09:30 – 20:00 (day)
  • Shift 3: 20:00 – 09:30 (night)
  • Shift 4: 20:00 – 09:30 (night)
  • 4 days off duty

Are you the person we're looking for?

Are you...?

  • Over 17 and a half years old on the date you apply? (There's no upper age limit.)
  • A UK/EU citizen or a permanent resident of the UK without any work restrictions?
  • Willing to get an LGV driving license within three years of joining? (You don’t need a driving licence to apply.)
  • Happy to be clean shaven, so you can safely wear breathing apparatus whilst fighting fires?
  • Free from any unspent criminal convictions?

If you meet the criteria above, you could be just what the London Fire Brigade is looking for.

You don’t need any particular qualifications to become a firefighter, however you’ll be expected to sit tests at a similar level to English and Maths GCSEs, along with a test to assess your mechanical reasoning.

Mechanical reasoning tests are generally used during the recruitment process for jobs related to engineering, the emergency services and the army, amongst many others. They are typically used to assess how well you can solve problems in a practical environment. You can see some practice questions, with answers, here: Mechanical reasoning practice questions PDF.

Other than good fitness levels, the diverse role of a firefighter means we’re looking for people with the following skills and personal qualities:

  • Working with the public
  • Being flexible and able to adapt to changing situations or demands of the job
  • Good communication skills which include contributing your ideas, listening to others and being clear and confident
  • Being confident to take the lead and put yourself/ideas forward
  • Able to think quickly and to solve problem and communicate your ideas clearly to others
  • Work as a team to support others
  • Skills to organise and manage your time well
  • Cope well under pressure

To read in more detail about the selection process, visit the London Fire Brigade careers page

Once again, to register for an open day where you will get the opportunity to meet firefighters and get hands on with some of the kit they use, please 0207 364 0626 or email employers@towerhamlets.gov.uk to register.