London Fire Brigade Assessment Day Preparation: Numerical & Verbal Reasoning Tests & Recruitment Process – 2021
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) provides fire and rescue services to all of London. Jobs with the LFB are in high demand, and the recruitment process ensures that only the best candidates become firefighters. Knowing what to expect during the process and preparing carefully will help you stand out among other candidates for open positions.
What Is London Fire Brigade Recruitment Process?
The LFB recruiting process includes several steps, from the initial application through training. Because competition is strong for any open positions, it’s important to make a good impression during each step.
The first step when applying for a firefighting job with the LFB is to fill out an application. Visit the LFB’s website to look for openings. Note that there are not always openings, but when there are, you can begin your application through the site.
There are several sections on the application. First, you will enter your name and other contact details. You are asked to provide information on any previous fire service experience or any other qualifications, such as volunteer work. You will also need to list any criminal convictions.
Along with the application, you will answer some questions about your personal qualities and attributes (PQAs) as part of the National Firefighter Questionnaire. The PQAs are characteristics that the LFB considers crucial to success as a firefighter. The PQAs the fire service is looking for include the following:
- Commitment to diversity and integrity
- Commitment to development
- Commitment to excellence
- Openness to change
- Confidence and resilience
- Working with others
- Effective communication
- Problem solving
- Situational awareness
Assessment Centre & Interview
If your application is approved, you may move on to the Assessment Centre. The Assessment Centre includes several steps: interview, group exercise, roleplay, Information Analysis Exercise, and testing.
The interview is conducted in person with LFB staff. It typically consists of standard interview questions, along with questions based on the desired PQAs. Some example interview questions include the following:
- Describe one way you have encouraged diversity in the workplace
- Have you been in an emergency? How did you react?
- Have you ever acted outside of accepted guidelines to resolve a problem?
- Describe a time when you received feedback from a coworker on your performance. How did you respond?
The group exercise typically includes working with a group of other applicants to determine how to resolve a scenario. The group will include you and five other applicants. You will have around 20 minutes to read over a written text, which you can then discuss with your group. The goal is to make a decision about actions you would take to resolve the problem described.
The roleplay exercise, as with many aspects of the LFB hiring process, is based on the PQAs. The scenarios vary, but typically you will act out a scenario with a roleplay actor as a member of LFB assesses you. The exercise lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Following the roleplay, you will complete the Information Analysis Exercise, which is a written exercise based on the roleplay scenario.
National Firefighter Ability Tests
The next step in the application process is to complete National Firefighter Ability (NFA) tests. The LFB uses three tests: Maths/Numerical Reasoning, Understanding Information/Verbal Reasoning, and Mechanical Reasoning. These assessments are described in more detail below.
Next, you will take physical ability tests which measure your fitness, along with other attributes such as confidence and ability to follow instructions. There are six different physical tests that the LFB conducts. They include the following:
- Ladder climb: climbing a 13.5m ladder and performing tasks while on the ladder.
- Casualty evacuation: dragging a weight of 55kg backward through a course.
- Ladder lift: lifting a ladder weighing 30kg above your head.
- Enclosed space: navigating a tight space with limited visibility, while carrying a weight.
- Equipment assembly: taking apart a portable water pump and putting it back together while wearing a firefighter uniform.
- Equipment carry: carrying equipment through a 25m course.
The medical check is completed with a member of LFB’s medical team. It includes answering questions about your medical history along with some tests. The team may request your medical records from your GP. Note that there is an eyesight test that checks for colorblindness. You can still apply if you are colorblind and the medical team will assess if there is any risk associated with your condition.
The final step of the process is when the LFB will check the references you provided with your application. They will ask about the previous three years, including any work, study, travel, and unemployed periods. For self-employed candidates, the LFB will request five references. You may not use personal references unless you have been employed in a family business.
If the LFB approves your references, you will begin pre-course learning for six weeks. Then, you will begin an 11-week full training, after which you will become a firefighter.
National Firefighter Ability Tests
The London Fire Brigade uses three tests to assess candidate’s cognitive abilities. The tests measure skills that firefighters use each day on the job. You will take the tests in person on assessment day; they are all written and in multiple-choice format.
Maths/Numerical Reasoning Test
Firefighters must be able to perform basic maths functions. They might need to calculate how much air is left in a tank, or the height of a ladder. This test requires you to understand and analyze numerical information.
There are 32 questions which pertain to six scenarios. You may not use a calculator, but you can use a pencil and paper to perform your calculations as needed.
Understanding Information/Verbal Reasoning Test
Firefighters need to read and understand complex information, such as incident reports and equipment instructions. This test determines how well you can read written information and absorb the information it contains.
This test has 25 questions which cover six scenarios.
Mechanical Reasoning Test
Each day, firefighters use a wide variety of equipment and tools. It’s important that firefighters understand how these items work and the basic principles that explain how they function. The mechanical reasoning test covers concept including gears, pulleys, and levers.
How to Prepare for the London Fire Brigade Assessment Day?
Many candidates are nervous about the group exercise and roleplay. Making sure you understand the preferred PQAs is a helpful way to prepare for these parts of assessment day. Keep the PQAs in mind as you complete the exercises. Be sure to listen carefully and give yourself time to consider the situation instead of making assumptions.
To prepare for the interview, ask a friend or family member to ask you practice questions. Answering out loud will be better preparation than simply thinking through your responses. As with the group and roleplay exercises, the PQAs are important in the interview. Keep them in mind as you answer. As with any interview, dress professionally, be on time, and be polite and friendly.
For the ability tests (numerical, verbal, and mechanical reasoning) the best way to prepare is online practice tests. These tests will help you know what to expect on the actual test, and can help you identify any skills you need to work on ahead of time. Look for practice tests that correspond to the subjects the LFB will test you on. Don’t hesitate to take each test several times until you’re happy with your score.
According to the LFB, the recruitment process can take from four to 12 months. If you do your best to prepare and remain patient throughout the process, there is a good chance you’ll be rewarded with a new job as a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade.