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Medical and fitness

Find out more about the medical and fitness requirements for becoming a Firefighter.

Medical

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

During the medical you will have the following checks:

General Medical

Listen to heart and lungs, examine abdomen and reflexes etc.

Blood Pressure

Raised blood pressure may require further investigation from your GP.

Breathing / Respiratory function

This will be assessed using a lung function machine which will identify a sufficient respiratory capacity to carry out firefighting. This is to ensure adequate oxygen intake is maintained to carry out duties requiring exertion over prolonged periods of time.

Drug and Alcohol Screening

Testing for alcohol will take the form of breath testing. Saliva samples will be taken to test for substances.

Hearing

A good standard of hearing is required as firefighting is a safety critical role. Hearing is assessed using an audiometer in a sound proofed booth.

Height / Weight

This will help to assess general health and fitness.

Urine test

A sample of urine will be required to test for signs of Diabetes or other medical conditions.

Vision

The Vision Standards for becoming a Firefighter are as follows:

  • Vision must be binocular. Monocularity will require additional assessment.
  • Distance = visual acuity of 6/9 with both eyes together, aided if necessary, with a minimum of 6/18 in the worse eye, aided if necessary.
  • Near vision = be able to read N6 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 25 years or under) or be able to read N12 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 26 and over).
  • Have a normal visual field in each eye, as determined by the Keystone machine.
  • Have no history of night blindness or any other ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in future failure of the visual standards for serving firefighters.
  • Have an appropriate level of colour perception. The Ishihara Test will be used to test for colour perception. If this is failed then a vocational colour vision test will be required. This is undertaken on the fireground to assess colour perception and the applicant’s suitability for adjustments.
  • Have not undergone refractive surgery in the previous 12 months. Individuals who have had Radial Keratotomy cannot be considered for operational firefighting duties due to the relatively high incidence of refractive instability. Individuals who have undergone the following types of refractive surgery can be considered 12 months after surgery:
    • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
    • Laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
    • Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)
  • Soft contact lenses can be worn.
  • Rigid (hard) lenses are not considered safe as debris can become trapped beneath these which can cause visual discomfort and disability.
  • Applicants may have to contribute to the costs of eyesight tests / examinations.

Advice should be sought from your Optician on whether you meet the standards above before applying to become a Firefighter.

Fitness

It is essential to have a good level of aerobic fitness. This will be assessed at the medical stage using a Walk on Incline Test undertaken on a treadmill whilst wearing a gas analysis mask.