Recruitment, training and development for on-call firefighters | Oxfordshire County Council

Recruitment, training and development for on-call firefighters

Details of the recruitment process and what training is offered.

Amy on bike next to fire engine

It can take up to six months to complete the full on-call firefighter recruitment process. We want you to succeed and will support you with advice and guidance on how to successfully prepare every step of the way.

Recruitment steps

Step 1 – Visit or call your local station

Have a chat with the Station Manager of your local fire station, they’ll match your availability with the needs of the station and tell you more about the role.

Step 2 – Apply online

The next step is to submit an application form so we can find out about you, your skills and experience. We’ll also ask you about the hours you would be able to commit to. If any of the times fall during your primary employment hours you will need to confirm your employer supports your application.

Step 3 – National firefighter written tests

These tests are designed to assess your aptitude and abilities for becoming an on-call firefighter. You will need to be able to show you can work with numbers, understand information and problem solve in situations relevant to the fire service. We’ll give you advice and guidance on how to prepare for them.

The booklets below will help you understand what the tests involve:

Step 4 – The Chester Treadmill Fitness Test

Before attending the physical assessment you must undertake a Chester Treadmill Test, to reach the required Aerobic Capacity VO2 of 42.

The Chester Treadmill Test is a cardiovascular and muscular endurance test lasting 17 minutes including a warm up and warm down. You will cover over 1.5km at a speed of 6.2km per hour, using your leg muscles to climb gradually increasing gradients.

To organise your Chester Treadmill Test please contact your local fire station. The results of your Chester Treadmill test need to be submitted to the HR team before you take your physical assessment.

Step 5 – The Physical assessment

During the physical assessment you will need to show you have the fitness and ability to complete tasks that are required of firefighters. You will be asked to complete a range of different physical activities including:

  • handling equipment
  • carrying weight
  • ladder climb and working at heights
  • coping with claustrophobic conditions
  • manual dexterity


Find out what would be expected of you at a physical assessment day and how to prepare (pdf format, 3.7Mb)

Further details can be found in the national firefighter ability tests preparation and advice booklet (pdf format, 663kb) and a guide to physical and practical assessments (pdf format, 44Kb)

Step 6 – The medical

You will be required to undertake a medical assessment and asked to declare any health problems. It will consist of:

  • General health questionnaire  -  history of physical and mental health, with additional respiratory questions for the Asbestos Regs
  • Measurement of pulse, blood pressure, height, weight, BMI
  • Dipstix urinalysis
  • Vision both near and distance plus colour vision
  • Spirometry (lung capacity test)
  • Audiometry (hearing test)
  • General physical examination (e.g. cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory, musculoskeletal etc.)

Step 7 – Interview

The interview is an opportunity for us to find out more about your experience and how you may cope with the difficult situations that firefighters can find themselves in. You’ll be assessed on your ability to communicate and work with others, along with your commitment to diversity, integrity, excellence and development. 

For help read the national firefighter interview practice booklet (pdf format, 40 Kb).

Step 8 – Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) record check

If you successfully pass all of the assessment stages, we may issue a conditional offer of appointment. The offer of appointment will be conditional and subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will pay the required fees associated with this check.

Attending a written or physical assessment

If you’ve applied and been asked to attend a test or assessment views the maps below for directions and parkin:

Candidates attending a physical assessment must complete and bring with them a fitness declaration form (pdf format, 38Kb)


An on-call firefighter never stops learning.  Training and continuous professional development is part of the role.

As a new recruit, we’ll give you basic training in different areas including fire ground skills, breathing apparatus, road traffic collisions, trauma care and firefighting based scenario, which will be spread over a mix of weekdays, evenings and weekends.

After successfully completing your introductory trainee course you will be allowed to attend incidents and as you complete more training you will become more competent and be able to give more help at different types of incident.


We’re committed to developing you. You’ll continually train throughout your career to maintain your skills and learn about new developments in technology and equipment.  We also offer opportunities for on-call firefighters to progress within the service, with chances to take on extra responsibilities as a crew or watch manager.

Going full-time

Occasionally, opportunities arise to become wholetime (full-time) firefighters. However, this is never guaranteed, and depends on vacancies. You would have to go through a separate recruitment process to become a wholetime firefighter.

Last reviewed
20 April 2018
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