If you have ever considered becoming a firefighter in Australia there are some extremely important questions you need to answer before embarking on the endeavour and there are also a large number of hurdles you need to be aware of if you’re going to have a good shot at joining the professional ranks of one of Australia’s Fire services.
The first question you need to answer to avoid wasting your own time.
Question 1: Is becoming a firefighter something I am 100% sure that I want to do?
To answer this question you need to gain an understanding of what being a firefighter in Australia means as in what is the role of a firefighter?, what does a firefighter do day to day?, Are there parts of the job I might find challenging? i.e. shift work, night shift, weekends, being exposed to trauma etc.
If you can answer these questions with a yes the next big question is “Am I prepared to commit to becoming a firefighter”. The odds of landing a job as a professional firefighter in Australia vary from 0.2% to about 5% of applicants, this means you will probably need to develop some skills if you want to beat the other 95-99.8% of applicants. This takes work, determination and commitment to see the journey through.
If that’s also a yes we can keep going?
So there are 10 main fire services that you can apply to become a professional firefighter in Australia. They are as follows
- F&R NSW – New south wales state fire service
- QFES – Queensland state fire service
- FRV – Victorian state fire service formerly MFB and CFA
- SAMFS – South Australian state fire service
- DFES – Western Australia fire service
- NTF&R – Northern territory fire service
- TAS Fire – Tasmania state fire service
- ARFF – Air services fire service, basically an airport firefighter.
- Project firefighter with forest fire management organisations
- Military fire service
I have listed these in rough order of competition, desirability & recruitment volume.
Now you need to decide which service you want to apply for, how competitive the service is and when and how they currently recruit firefighters.
The recruitment process to become a firefighter in Australia can be broken down into the following fundamental sections
- Cognitive or Aptitude testing
- Firefighter personality profiling or psych testing
- Physical testing usually referred to as PAT testing or a variation of such as OFAT in QLD
- Interview, many variations of format and frequency
- Medical, background, reference checks etc
I’ll give you a quick rundown on some tips you must use in order to have any chance in relation to each of the fundamental areas of assessment.
You get one shot at your application so follow the instructions to the letter, make sure it’s the best application you are capable of submitting and have it checked by someone in the know. You need to understand what to include and what to leave out so that every single thing in your application is building a positive application for you and not the opposite.
Cognitive or Aptitude Tests
There are many versions of these tests and many companies providing the different tests in the ever-changing world of aptitude testing for firefighter recruitment.
The key to getting this part right is ensuring you are practising the right type of tests and test questions in the right format.
This is by far the biggest dream killer for most aspiring firefighters in Australia.
At the moment there are a few main companies including Revelian, Safe Select, Pearson Vue, Saville, Chandler Mcleod etc that administer the tests for the different services so you need to be on the ball with this. One of the more recent additions is the game-based testing like Cognify by Revelian, it’s a game based testing platform that gives recruiters a deeper insight into your skills and behaviour over the classic testing types. To get cognify practice tests can be hard but you will want to get some exposure if this test is being used by the service you are applying to.
Firefighter Psych Test
The firefighter psych test can take many forms and usually isn’t something you need to worry about unless your unsure about what you’re doing or you are blindly trying to manage your appearance through your answer patterns. Different services use different types of tests and change them from time to time. The results from these tests are usually linked to your aptitude test results and can prevent you from moving forward in the process if you get it wrong. Some of the tests you will find are the “work safety test”, “talent screener”, “work styles questionnaire”, “PCI profiling test” & “Revelian’s Emotify”. It pays to know which one you are facing and what matters within them particularly if you have failed one before.
These days there is some good information around how to prepare for this test, the main thing is that you do in fact prepare. Pay this test the attention it deserves even if your super fit. I was speaking with a friend the other day who missed out on the job due to not paying any attention to the contents of this test and the nuances within the test. My motto “Control the outcome of what you can” and this is one of those things but you can’t pay someone else to do your push-ups.
Massive opportunity in the interview to absolutely mop the floor if you know what you’re doing and put in the hard yards. It’s at the (final) interview stage I usually say to people “if you follow what I ask you to do and put in the effort I can almost guarantee you a job”.
Remember anyone can look up the STAR technique and patch together a few examples, the key here is that we need to be better than the rest.
This means developing the interview muscle so you can outperform under any circumstances.
Background & Medical
Simply identify any potential or foreseeable issues and get in front of them before it’s too late. Also, do an online cleanse or assessment of what you’re putting out into the public arena, it matters and they will check.
If you follow these fundamentals you will be well on your way to beating the competition and that is essentially how you become a firefighter in Australia.
Founder – Fire Recruitment Australia
- Hydration for fire fighters
- Fitness Testing for WA and NSW Fire Department
- See the pages on fitness testing for: Navy, Army, Air Force, Law Enforcement (Police), and general forces tests.
- Poll: Should women have the same fitness testing standards as men?
- Video of forces fitness testing