About the firefighter written tests
The Firefighter Selection process involves a number of different written tests. These tests usually consist of multiple-choice questions, which are designed to assess a candidate’s abilities and aptitude for becoming a competent firefighter.
The tests themselves will normally be carried out at a local test centre or Fire Service establishment and will take approximately 3 hours to complete. You will receive full details about the tests prior to their test day.
The firefighter written tests are split into two different categories as follows:
1. Ability tests
- Working with numbers;
- Understanding information;
- Situational awareness and problem solving.
2. The National Firefighter Questionnaire
This questionnaire has been designed so as to provide information on your style and your behaviour. The Fire Service will use this information, along with the other results of your tests, to determine whether or not you are suitable to become a firefighter.
Before we take a look at a number of different sample test questions, let’s go back to our ‘plan’. You will recall at the beginning of the guide how I set out my plan for every stage of the selection process. If I was preparing for the firefighter written tests today, I would first of all ask myself the following two questions:
Q1. Why is the Fire Service assessing me in these areas?
Q2. What would they expect to see from successful candidates?
Once again I will write down my perceived answers to these questions, and I get the following responses:
A1. They want to be sure that I am capable of working with numbers in a fast and competent manner because this is what firefighters are required to do as part of their role. They must use calculations effectively, especially when using breathing apparatus and operating the pump on a fire engine.
The Fire Service also wants to be sure that I can understand information that is relevant to the firefighters role. This will demonstrate to the assessors that I have the potential to pass the firefighter training course and that I also have the ability to complete any future professional development during my career.
Finally, they want to be sure that I am aware of situations relevant to the firefighters role and that I can apply a common sense approach to those situations.
A2. The Fire Service would expect to see accurate calculations whilst I am working with numbers and that I can follow appropriate guidance that is provided during the tests. They would expect to see that I am capable of understanding job relevant information and answering questions correctly base around that information. They would also want to see me make common sense, safe decisions when presented with specific scenarios.
Now that I have my two answers I will set out another simple plan that dictates exactly what I am going to do put those answers write. In this particular case it will look something like this:
- I will embark on a structured development programme that will improve my ability to work with numbers. I will carry out a large number of sample test questions and I will obtain further testing booklets and resources to allow me to do that. If I need further assistance or development in this area then I will seek the help of a qualified tutor.
- I will make sure that I fully understand the role of a firefighter so that I can respond to the questions based around ‘understanding information. In order to achieve this I will read and learn the PQAs and also learn about job specific roles such as Community Fire Safety.
- By learning and understanding about the firefighters role, especially in relation to the PQAs, I will be able to respond to situational awareness questions more effectively. I will also ensure that I make myself aware of health and safety and the 5 steps to risk assessment.
Even though the above process is a simple one, it is important that you carry it out as it will focus your mind on the areas that you need to work on and develop. Now lets move on to different testing areas.
Within this guide I have provided you with a number of sample test questions to help you prepare for the ability tests. Use the questions provided as a practise aid only. Remember that these will not be the exact questions that you will be required to answer on the day.
Prior to the tests
- Preparation, preparation, preparation! In the weeks before the test, work hard to improve your skills in the testing areas. In addition to the tests contained within this guide there are numerous other testing resources available at www.how2become.co.uk. Practise as many test questions as possible and make sure you learn from your mistakes.
- Get a good night’s sleep before the test day and don’t drink any alcohol or caffeine.
- On the morning of the test get up early and have a last practise at a small number of sample test questions just to get your brain working.
- Eat a good healthy breakfast such as bran flakes and a chopped up banana. Don’t eat anything too heavy that will make you feel bloated or sluggish – remember; you want to be at your best.
- Check the news for any potential traffic problems and leave in good time to arrive at the test centre with plenty of time to spare. Take a small bottle of water with you to help keep you hydrated.
On The Day
- Arrive in good time at the test location. Make sure you know where the test centre is.
- Ensure that you know exactly what you are required to do - do not be afraid to ask questions.
- Follow the instructions you are given exactly.
- During the tests try to eliminate as many wrong answers as possible. For example, with numerical tests, a quick estimate may help you to discard several of the options without working out every alternative.
- Work as quickly and accurately as you can. Both speed and accuracy are important so do not spend too long on any one question.
- Do not waste time on a difficult question. If you are stuck, leave it and move on but make sure you leave a space on the answer sheet!
- Don't worry if you do not finish all the questions in the time, but if you do, go over your answers again to check them.
- Wear smart, formal dress. Remember that you are trying to create a good impression. You are attempting to join a uniformed and disciplined service so it is advisable that you wear an appropriate outfit. Many people at the test centre will be wearing jeans and trainers. Make sure you stand out for all the right reasons!
- Keep your head down and concentrate on the task in hand. It is your job to do as best as you possibly can during the tests so it is important that you concentrate.
Situational awareness and problem solving
This test assesses an applicant's ability to ensure the safety of themselves and others and their ability to use information to solve problems.
The test requires you to read descriptions of situations or scenarios that you are likely to face when working as a firefighter. You will then be presented with four alternative answers and you must choose the answer that most closely describes what you would do in that situation. It is important to understand that firefighters must be capable of working both safely and unsupervised. Answer the questions carefully and think about the scenario before you respond.
The real test has 30 questions and you will have 35 minutes to complete them. It is up to you to read each question very carefully before selecting your answer.
Now take a look at the practice question that follows:
Sample question 1
Whilst using an item of operational equipment at a fire, you notice that part of that equipment is not working correctly. What would you do?
A. Carry on using the equipment and pretend that I haven’t noticed the defect.
B. Stop using the equipment and inform my supervisory officer of the problem.
C. Try to fix the equipment myself.
D. Put the equipment back on the Fire Engine and leave it there for someone else to deal with.
What was your answer? The correct answer should be B.
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Fireman Recruitment Expert