Prepare to Recruit

Branding and Engagement


In this section, we are going to take a look at the elements of branding and engagement that you will need to consider when you are planning and preparing to recruit.

  • Employer branding
  • Engagement activities
  • Key messages and branding examples
  • Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Attracting a diverse workforce
  • Use of social media & website content
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) considerations
  • Positive Action
  • Devolved Nations & Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

Employer Branding

Recruitment is a competitive business, not just for candidates going through the recruitment journey but also for prospective employers who are increasingly competing to attract candidates towards their organisation and away from others.

Whilst firefighting has always been a popular career choice, most fire and rescue services are finding themselves addressing issues of diversity and inclusion and wanting to attract candidate applications from under-represented groups in their workplace. This is where Employer Branding comes into its own and could mean the difference between a candidate deciding to apply or not.

Did you know?
  • 50% of employers think of employer branding as the core of a successful HR strategy. (Source: Beamery)
  • A strong employer brand can result in 50% more qualified applicants, so if your reputation isn’t good, then candidates may decide to apply to a competitor, and you won’t ever get the chance to try to set the record straight about your culture. You need the people you hire to support your values and for your brand to reflect them.

Each fire and rescue service should evaluate, consider, and create their own approach to their employer branding and engagement activities. Appendix 2 of the NFCC model Recruitment Policy contains more information about Employer Branding, including how to embed your employer brand into your employee lifecycle.

Engagement Activities

There are a wide variety of mechanisms that can be utilised to build engagement throughout the community, ranging from outreach programmes (more commonly associated with universities), Station Open Days, Firefighter’s Charity car washes, Cadets Programmes, Prince’s Trust Programmes, school visits, Careers events (see case study below) and inviting local Scouting and Guiding groups into the station with their families to name just a few. All of these initiatives help to raise awareness of the fire and rescue service as a potential employer and create opportunities for people to interact with people on station. This in turn helps create engagement and indirectly provides support for a diverse range of candidates who may consider a career within the sector.

One of the key reasons identified as to why candidates BAME candidates and women do not apply for roles in the fire and rescues service is a lack of awareness of the fire and rescue sector as a career opportunity and a lack of connections that provide positive support for applicants. (Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA); accessed 2021; Diversity and positive action briefing note for fire and rescue services)

A good example statement of intent is provided on London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) website.

We actively encourage and welcome all applicants to LFB, regardless of age, disability, transgender status or gender identity, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

We have a zero tolerance of discrimination and a strategy in place to ensure that no candidates are treated unfairly. You can tell us if you require reasonable adjustments to provide you with equal opportunity in our recruitment processes, and our recruitment team are on hand to answer any questions you might have. (Accessed 2022)

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, in-person interactions were unachievable and there was an exponential increase in the use of Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts as an alternative way to interact with people in an online, virtual capacity. Fire & rescue services found innovative ways of utilising this technology to sustain engagement with their communities. Many offered online events for potential candidates in addition to online resources, and used Facebook Live sessions for FAQ sessions to create interest in recruitment activities (see case study below). The opportunity for creating digital content and streaming on YouTube was also popular and was used by fire and rescue services to provide content to support home-schooling activities and create links with the younger members of their communities, families and schools.


Key Messages And Branding Examples

When creating your recruitment campaign marketing plan and materials, you will need to decide on the key messages that you will use to attract talented applicants.

By understanding your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) you will be better placed to create media that will promote your Service’s strengths along with the factors that attract people to apply for a Firefighter role.

In the next section we will explore the EVP in more detail, but fundamental elements that you may wish to consider will be around compensation, work-life balance, stability (particularly important to people post COVID-19), work location, and feeling valued and respected.

Once you have a clear understanding, all this will be able to be translated into your recruitment campaign comms and your wider Service brand comms. Your more targeted comms to support your positive action approach will still need to be underpinned with these key messages, but may also contain other more specific messaging as well.

For further information and support materials for positive action, there is a dedicated section in the Recruitment Hub which contains some modifiable support materials and some case studies to provide insights into the approaches that other UK fire & rescue service have used.

Below, we have provided a flip-book of images from previous recruitment campaigns to help and inspire you as you devise your own approach. We hope you will find these useful as examples of imagery and messaging.

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Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Strong employee value propositions (EVPs) can set you apart from your competitors and can help you to attract quality candidates and aid employee retention.

Creating an effective EVP involves learning what your current employees value about your organisation and what candidates are looking for in their future employer. Your values and your organisational culture will form part of your EVP, alongside employee benefits such as salary, development, career progression, flexible working/hours of work, well-being support and family-friendly policies.

The difference between EVP and employer brand

Your service’s EVP is about why people want to work for you rather than another organisation and relates to the value you would provide them as a potential future employee and what you are providing to your current employees.

Employer brand is closely related to EVP, but it also relates to the “what” and the “how” of your Service and includes your Service’s reputation and public image. Your EVP is a building block of employer brand, and to be effective they should be aligned.

An effective and well-communicated EVP will assist candidates to evaluate things like:

  • Why should I work for your fire and rescue services instead of another?
  • What will be the benefits for me if I work for you?
  • What makes your fire and rescue service an enjoyable place to work?
  • What can you offer me that other fire and rescue services cannot offer me?
  • What can you offer for development and career opportunities?

Attracting a Diverse Workforce

Demonstrating your commitment to attracting a diverse workforce

There are many accreditations that fire and rescue services can consider as part of their employer brand to attract people from across their communities. Some of the more well-known ones are things like Employer of Choice, Investors in People, Disability Confident which send clear messages about valuing people.

This may all sound like a lot of work, but employer branding is critical if you want to attract talent, and there is evidence that employers will increasingly be competing for quality candidates. An extensive report from Korn Ferry has predicted that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled because there are not enough skilled people to take them. (Source: Korn Ferry; accessed 2021).

A strong employer brand should connect an organisation’s values, people strategy and policies. A key part of an organisation’s culture and values are the ethical standards that the employer upholds through the practice of its employees. Employer brand is therefore influenced by the ethical perspective that prospective and current employees take, as well as through business actions” (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 2020 – Employer Brand).​​

Use of Social Media & Website Content

Showcasing employee stories and publishing case studies on social media and on your website will help you to build authenticity and create a human connection to outside audiences as well as for your existing employees. Potential applicants will expect to be able to access your Service information and job-related content on your website quite easily and will be looking for authenticity, and transparency through meaningful communications.

Publishing digital stories can help potential applicants truly understand your culture, set expectations for the job role and for their employment with you. It will help potential applicants decide if your fire and rescue service is a place they want to work, if they will be happy there, and if firefighting is going to be the job they will want to do. It may also help to challenge any misconceptions they may already have about the day-to-day job through representing all the aspects of the firefighter’s role.

Some fire and rescue services provide Awareness Days in advance of the launch of their application process to help shape applicant expectations of the Firefighter role. These are publicised via a range of social media channels to maximise the social reach of their communications, and then supported by additional web-content. If fire and rescue services seek an Expression of Interest (EOI) as the first stage of their recruitment process, this can also be promoted via social media.

Whilst using social media is highly effective, it can be time-consuming and relies on content being regularly posted online. Using a social media platform can help with automating this process, and the document below has been included to provide you with some research about potential supplier platforms for automation.

We have also provided another document about the range of social media channels that are available to use and provide some additional top-level data around user numbers, suitability of use and best times to post.

We hope you will find this information useful to you as you plan your Social Media Strategy to support and promote your recruitment campaign.

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EDI Considerations

When developing your branding and engagement approach, there will be some considerations for you to bear in mind, such as ethical practice. HR is uniquely placed to help integrate ethics into a fire and rescue service’s people processes which includes recruitment, induction and onboarding, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Scandals and bad publicity associated with your employment decision-making can be hugely damaging and so embedding principled decision-making into your people management, and in particular your recruitment practices, is really important. Doing this will support your professional image and brand as a fire & rescue service and will promote that an employee of your Service will need to work with personal integrity.

In recruitment, often decisions associated with people management will often involve a trade-off between different needs or priorities, but being transparent about these decisions with potential employees and explaining the rationale will build trust and support your employer brand.

Some resources that you may find useful are listed below.

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Devolved Nations and Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

Public Sector Equality Duty – Introduction

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) came into effect in April 2011 (s.149 of the Equality Act 2010) to clearly communicate the requirement for public sector authorities to have due regard to achieve the objectives set out under s 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to:

  1. eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduce that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
  2. advance equality of opportunity between person who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
  3. Foster good relations between person share a relevant characteristic and persons who do not share it.

The Public Sector Equality Duty consists of the general equality duty and the specific duties. A Public Sector ‘quick start guide’ to the public sector Equality Duty can be accessed here and includes a list of public bodies in Schedule 19 to which the specific duty applies. (; accessed 2022)

England, Wales and Scotland are all subject to the PSED. Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is not subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty.​​​

Please access the accompanying document for more information and links to further reading for:

Devolved nations – introduction

The legislative frameworks for devolution were originally set out in the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the Northern Ireland Act 1998, although all three have subsequently been amended. There is also a non-legislative framework of agreements between Government departments and the devolved institutions, which help resolve disputes between central and devolved government.

The UK system of devolution is asymmetric, in that different parts of the UK have different forms of devolution and varying degrees of power. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now all possess executive and legislative devolution, while Metro Mayors in parts of England (and the Mayor of London) have only executive powers. Combined Authorities and the London Assembly can scrutinise executive decisions but not legislate in the manner of the Scottish Parliament, Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Please access the accompanying document for further information and links to further reading for fire and rescue services in England and the devolved nations.

Positive Action

To achieve the aim of employing a workforce that is representative of the communities that we serve, it is important to recognise that we will need to encourage applications from under-represented for jobs within our fire and rescue services. By using positive action initiatives and by providing a range of support mechanisms early in the Firefighter recruitment process, we can help applicants to be more likely to succeed.

Using positive action activities to help attract a diverse range of talent can be further supported by the introduction of coaching and mentoring programmes. Targeted social media campaigns and development activities will all help to attract and support under-represented groups to apply to your service.

Positive Action is allowed when there is evidence of under-representation of a particular protected characteristic within a sector in the service (for example fewer males working in control) and legally enables the service to target that under-represented group with adverts, promotional events etc.

This does NOT mean any applicants are automatically given a role, however, if two applicants are scored exactly the same at interview, the one from the under-represented group can be awarded the post.

Using and completing an Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) as part of the planning to recruit preparations for positive action will help you to identify any potential barriers, whilst also offering you an opportunity to remove or mitigate any disadvantage to drive improvement.

Signing up to the Fire Inclusion Group Diversity MOU will help and support the fire and rescue sector in establishing a base position and provide a mechanism to share improvements across the sector.

Positive Action resources

We have provided some examples below of positive action initiatives that fire and rescue services and other organisations are using across the UK. We would like to thank all those people who have kindly contributed to this work and so generously share their experiences.

​Positive Action examples​

(All accessed, 2021)

Positive Action Case Studies for ideas around the sort of things that fire and rescue services have been doing and the results that ensued.

Defining the Role for Recruitment


Defining a job role for the purposes of recruitment starts with a job analysis, during which you can gather information about a job role that will provide the information for the basis of the job description and person specification.

The job description explains to potential candidates the detailed job requirements, such as responsibilities and objectives of the role. It helps the recruitment process by providing a clear overview of the role for all involved. It can also provide clarity during induction and, later, on performance and objectives.

The person specification states the essential criteria for selection. The characteristics must be clear, demonstrable and avoid bias in wording. (Source: People Management; accessed 2022).

Competence and competency frameworks are sometimes substituted for job or person specifications, but these should include an indication of roles and responsibilities. See our factsheet on competence and competency frameworks. (Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) website, accessed 2022)

Icon Description automatically generatedWhilst the focus for the Recruitment Hub is Firefighter recruitment, we have also provided examples for Green Book roles below for you

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Please navigate through each section using the vertical navigation bar to the left of the screen, or by using the forward/back arrows at the end of each section. To return to the Recruitment Hub landing page throughout the website, please click the ‘Home’ button icon which appears at the end of each page.

FF Job Description & Person Specification Toolkit

In acknowledging national and local variation, the NFCC Firefighter Job Description (JD) and Person Specification (PS) Toolkit has been designed for each fire and rescue service to adopt and adapt as they need to for their own operational firefighter recruitment process. Using the toolkit will allow you the flexibility to create your own JD and PS, whilst supporting a level of consistency across the sector by using centrally-agreed terminology.

The focus of the toolkit is very much on ‘hiring for potential’ rather than seeking someone who is ‘superhuman’. It has also been designed to align with and reflect the Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship Standard. However, the mapping document provided as part of the toolkit will highlight any differences between the two for you. The inclusion of the modifiable Excel spreadsheet which includes the sections for ‘Requisite line items’ alongside ‘More line items to consider’ will help you to build your JD and PS.

Toolkit resources

The component parts of the toolkit are listed below for you – please commence in the first instance by reading through the online flipbook

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Essentials for Firefighter Recruitment

The following essential criteria have been defined as the necessary elements which need to be adhered to during recruitment of Firefighters.

The use of the NFCC Core Code of Ethics and NFCC Leadership Framework are designed to work alongside these essential criteria and should be used to underpin the recruitment process, particularly when assessing attitudes, behaviours, and values.  Policies and processes should reflect the Core Code of Ethics to ensure they are embedded and at the heart of day-to-day activity.


Essential Criteria

Age requirement A candidate must be 18 years of age upon commencement of their role as a firefighter. It is recognised that some fire and rescue services allow candidates to apply from 17.5 years of age as long as they are aged 18 by the commencement of their role. (Reference The Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999; clause 19.)
Security vetting A DBS check must be considered, and guidance confirms that a basic check used as a minimum on any candidate who is offered a role as a firefighter. The role of a Firefighter does not currently meet the criteria for an enhanced DBS check, but it is recognised that there are some circumstances (e.g. fire and rescue services operating from a shared location with a police force) where a more advanced DBS check is required, as covered in the Baseline Personnel Security Standard.
Reasonable adjustments The Firefighter role is not one that everyone will be able to undertake, however, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments where reasonably practicable to adapt to any elements of the job which place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people. As per the Statutory Code of Practice for employment, all fire and rescue services have the duty to anticipate that reasonable adjustments may be required.

It should be noted that employers are only required to make adjustments that are reasonable, and factors such as the cost and practicability of making an adjustment and the resources available to the employer may be relevant in deciding what is reasonable.

Reasonable adjustments should be provided on an individual basis and may need to be informed by medical practitioners, such as Occupational Health.

Selection processes There are a number of selection processes that need to be undertaken during recruitment of firefighters. These mandatory processes are:

  • fitness tests (cf. fitness standards below)
  • practical tests
  • interview
  • medical, including hearing and eyesight
  • some test of literacy/numeracy (dependent on the individual fire and rescue service’s own process, e.g. online testing or asking for particular qualifications) *
UK Right to Work Candidates need to meet the UK Right to Work criteria and be a UK/EU citizen or a permanent resident of the UK without any work restrictions. Current criteria are available here: Checking a job applicant’s right to work – GOV.UK (
Convictions Candidates need to be free from any unspent convictions; please refer to Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Medical standards A candidate is required to pass a medical as defined by each individual fire and rescue service’s policy**. Care needs to be taken to ensure that discrimination does not occur at this stage and any queries related to medical standards and candidate health should, therefore, be answered based on the advice of a medical practitioner, such as Occupational Health, in order to achieve a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Fitness standards Any candidate is required to pass a fitness test in accordance with the fitness standards as published by Firefit,  available online here.


Please note:

Entry requirements, including language requirements for those for whom English is a second language, were not able to be captured within this piece of work due to the upcoming Fire Reform White Paper and consultation. It is recognised that this piece of work may need to be revised following the outcomes of the white paper and consultation.

* The test of literacy/numeracy will also relate to the outcomes of the white paper and consultation, as per the note above

** The current CFOA centralised medical standards are intended to be reviewed in due course and so, when that has taken place, each fire and rescue service will be required to adhere to the centralised medical standards 

Online Resources

Apprenticeship Firefighter Recruitment

For the NFCC Apprenticeships information (including the Firefighter Apprenticeship) please refer to the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education website.

Routes to Entry

Internal vs External Recruitment

All fire and rescue services run recruitment activities to attract candidates who are external to the organisation. There are certainly advantages to also attracting your existing employees to apply, although there is currently no formal national position on how you should do this.

The information below is intended to help you in making up your mind on how you will approach this for your own organisation. Transferability from On-call to Wholetime is covered in a later section.

Icon Description automatically generatedThe advantages of hiring internal candidates:
  • You will already know your internal candidates, so there are likely to be fewer surprises, and you have already been able to assess their cultural within your organisation, so this option may be a less-risky appointment than an external candidate
  • Internal candidates already understand your organisation, know how it works, and understand your values – this can reduce time for onboarding and induction, help reduce associated costs and allow people to settle more quickly into their role and perform well from the out-set
  • Internal candidates will already have a good knowledge of the reality of being a firefighter – they know that being a firefighter is not solely about response but includes prevention and protection work too, so they are more likely to have realistic expectations and be happy at work
  • Internal candidates are already emotionally invested in your organisation and the work you do – they are ‘engaged’ and want to stay with you. In-house recruitment also boosts employee engagement even further and makes people feel truly valued and appreciated in your organisation, so they are less likely to leave
  • Internal candidates will see internal recruitment opportunities as a development opportunity to potentially better their pay, expand upon their current talents, learn new skills, expand their knowledge and responsibilities, and utilise any existing transferable knowledge and skills in their new role
  • Internal candidates are likely to do a great handover to their backfill and be supportive of helping with any issues that may occur; they may have previous knowledge of issues and resolutions and because they are still within your organisation, they are more contactable and more likely to help!

Icon Description automatically generatedSome disadvantages to consider:

So, you may well be asking now if there are any disadvantages to an internal hire, and of course there can be! Some are listed below for you to consider.

  • Any internal hire will now need to be backfilled, so you have additional recruitment costs and demand on the organisation’s resource and capacity for recruitment
  • The team they are leaving may well suffer from being under-resourced if this is a hard to fill role in a competitive candidate market
  • Unsuccessful candidates may feel dis-engaged after the process – there may be performance issues or emotional impact that they may need support with.
  • Unsuccessful candidates may decide to pursue the firefighter role outside of your organisation and leave their current role rather than wait for another opportunity with you
  • You may reduce your opportunity to increase the diversity of your employee profile (i.e. reducing your ability to attract new people to your Fire & Rescue Service from outside your existing employee pool)

Process considerations

You will need to decide if your recruitment processes will be different for internal v external candidates.

If you decide that all candidates, irrespective of whether they are an existing employee or not, need to complete the same process, that is absolutely fine. This is about deciding and then communicating your decisions openly so that people know. If people know from the outset, and this information is clearly recorded in your documentation before you commence your recruitment process, then candidate expectations can be met, and confrontation and challenge avoided.

Similarly, if there are to be any exemptions in the process for internal candidates, this needs to be explicit for all candidates to see as well so that there is total openness and transparency in your process, and you are seen to be living your values.

Regardless of what you decide your approach will be, it is imperative that it is clearly communicated to all your potential candidates and that your selection processes are transparent and consistent and can be evidenced as having met the national standards throughout.

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An example of a policy clearly distinguishing between the applicant journey for internal/external candidates can be found here. (Source: Greater Manchester FRS website, accessed 2021)


Please navigate through each section using the vertical navigation bar to the left of the screen, or by using the forward/back arrows at the end of each section. To return to the Recruitment Hub landing page throughout the website, please click the ‘Home’ button icon which appears at the end of each page.

On-call Recruitment

In 2021, the National Fire Chiefs Councils ran the ‘Need More?’ On-call firefighter recruitment campaign from 1st – 7th March 2021 and created a website to support. This national website for On-call firefighter recruitment means that people who are interested in the role can research what being an On-call Firefighter really entails and can also enquire about opportunities with services in their area.

The website gives a realistic insight into what the role is and what recruits can expect. It contains links to a YouTube channel and content, a downloadable Employee Guide and real-life stories from On-call Firefighters. There is also an ‘Employer Advice’ tab that promotes the advantages of having On-call Firefighters in their workforce. A downloadable Employer Guide is also available.


On-call Apprenticeships 

Apprenticeship recruitment

The NFCC Apprenticeships Toolkit is available online here to help you to develop and deliver appropriate apprenticeships for your staff. This toolkit is provided as a guide to aid your decision-making and planning, and has additional signposting to other relevant websites for additional details.

On-call apprenticeships 

If your fire & rescue service has an On-call workforce, you may want to consider using the Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship Standard to train your new On-call recruits and use your apprenticeship levy to provide their training. The Firefighter Apprenticeship Standard is available on the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education.

We would encourage all fire and rescue services to review for themselves whether On-call apprenticeships are suitable for their own specific contexts and consider the suitability of this approach from all perspectives. There is also a draft document entitled ‘Interpretation of the apprenticeship funding rules for On Call Firefighters’ that you may find helpful

On-call Migration & Inter Service Transfers

Both On-call Migration and Inter Service Transfers utilise competent Firefighters, who have completed their full training to fill vacancies within a fire and rescue service. Both may also be referred to as Transferability.

On-call Migration

On-call to Wholetime migration can be a good process to bring experienced firefighters into your service to fill available posts. The choices available for you to consider will be whether you require the On-call transferees to be fully competent, or whether you will allow people in development to be eligible to apply as long as they meet the criteria you set for whereabouts they are in their development pathway. The next decision is whether you will limit applications to your own On-call, or whether you will allow applications from people from other services.

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To assist you with developing your On-call to Wholetime migration  process, we have provided the following documents:

Icon Description automatically generated A flipbook of five case studies from the fire and rescue services who participated in the workgroup

Inter Service Transfers

Inter Service Transfers involve employees moving from one employing fire and rescue service to another on a permanent basis, thereby necessitating resigning from the originating employer and working their notice period, before commencing with the new employer on new employment terms and commencing a Probation Period. Their continuous service, however, is transferred across and retained by the individual.

This process will again need to be included and explicitly explained within your Resourcing Strategy and Recruitment Policy. A standard approach that is usually adopted is that the applying candidate is competent in the role (and able to demonstrate this), meets all the selection criteria for the role and passes all pre-employment checks including medical and fitness requirements.

Direct Entry Into Leadership

The benefits of direct entry

Direct entry is used as a mechanism to fill operational managerial roles by attracting external candidates who possess sought after and valuable management and leadership skills; this approach can run alongside the development of internal employees to managerial roles and transfers in from other fire and rescue services.

Direct Entry can be an effective way to help increase your managerial talent pool – by allowing candidates to enter the organisation at a higher operational level than the entry level role of a Firefighter, any predicted shortages in managers that are identified through workforce planning activities, can help to be addressed.

Direct entry can, therefore, be used as part of the suite of recruitment activities to positively impact and support the organisation’s ability to deliver its strategic aims. Whilst applicants do not have operational fire and rescue service experience, sector related knowledge and skills can be acquired through an intensive training and development programme.

Fire and Rescue Direct Entry Scheme National Approach

The NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) has recently concluded its consultation period (on Friday 29 October 2021) for the proposal of a Fire and Rescue Direct Entry Scheme.

Further information regarding the development of the full programme for Direct Entry into Leadership and the commencement of this approach with a small number of fire and rescue services will be available on the NFCC website later in 2022. Please keep checking back for updated content to appear here on the Recruitment Hub.

FRS Direct Entry documents produced for the consultation are still available online:

For further information on the NFCC Direct Entry Scheme National Approach and the planned next steps for the NFCC project please read the attachment below:

Other Considerations

Other approaches such as High Potential Development Schemes, Secondments and the NFCC Executive Leadership Scheme all fall into both recruitment and talent management activities.

High Potential Development Schemes

High Potential Development Schemes are accelerated career development programmes for high-potential employees to progress to senior roles at a faster pace. Schemes are typically around 2 years in length and are available to existing employees within the organisation who meet the eligibility criteria.

Also known as “fast-track” development, these are initiatives where individuals with high potential are supported through learning and development pathways to be developed for the opportunity to progress to senior management positions that may become available within this time.

High Potential schemes provide their participants with an opportunity to gain valuable insights about their own strengths and access learning opportunities for their personal development, people-related skills development and strengthening strategic leadership thinking. It also facilitates the building of a strong network of peers, which, in turn, then encourages further collaboration between departments and people across the organisation.

High Potential Schemes are currently in use in the fire and rescue service sector, the NHS, the Civil Service, and a host of other organisations. They help to build a robust and diverse pipeline of candidates to fill senior and critical roles within the organisation. This can help to mitigate the risks associated with roles that have been identified as being a potential ‘single point of failure’ or highlighted as requiring succession planning.

NFCC Executive Leadership Programme

The NFCC Executive Leadership Programme (ELP) is a programme of personal development which is delivered through Warwick Business School and the National Fire Chiefs Council.

The programme is available to candidates who have the support of their CFO and requires the successful attendance at a gateway designed to ensure they are ready for the programme. The programme has five modules, and is highly experiential, offering a variety of opportunities to explore leadership thinking and develop the behaviours required to lead a fire and rescue service in the 21st century. Successful completion of the programme and the assignments result in the award of a Post Graduate Certificate in Strategic Leadership from the University of Warwick.

Further information can be found in this document – ELPInformationApr20.pdf (


Secondments are a mechanism that can be used to recruit to a role for a fixed time-period, either internally within the same organisation or externally, with another affiliated organisation.

As an example, an employee may be seconded from one fire and rescue service to another or from a fire and rescue service to an appropriate authority, such as local government.

Secondments allow an individual to experience a different role, usually to undertake a specific piece of work or to cover a time bound absence. They can form part of retention strategies to retain employees who may not have the opportunity to develop or progress within the organisation in their current role. Details pertaining to secondments are usually contained within an organisation’s Recruitment Policy and Resourcing Strategy.

During a secondment, the employee retains their continuous service rights and their substantive employment; they will be required to sign a Secondment Agreement for the term of their temporary employment/role.


  • The NFCC has produced a Secondment Policy which is available here
  • The NFCC Recruitment Policy, which is available here.

Good Practice Examples


This section is intended to provide you with an idea of what other fire and rescue services are doing in terms of their recruitment approaches. In sharing good practice examples this way, the aim is to reduce time and costs associated with repetition for the sector and support the creation of a consistent approach for candidates nationally whilst respecting difference.

FRS Learn

The FRS Learn site has been created to also support the ethos of sector collaboration, and contains resources supplied by fire and rescue services from across the UK. It is available for you to access here – you will need to create a login.

​​NFCC resources

There is a suite of NFCC resources available to you online from the People Programme. This will continue to be developed in line with the NFCC People Strategy, available here.

  • Recruitment Policy within the Model Policies section, available here
  • Workforce Planning Policy within the Model Policies section, available here
  • Talent Management Toolkit here
  • EDI Toolkit, available here
  • Apprenticeships Toolkit, available here
  • Core Code of Ethics, available here
  • Leadership Framework, available here
  • Maturity Models & Workforce Good Practice Framework, available here
  • On Call Recruitment, available here

Best Practice Recruitment Policy

The NFCC has developed a model Recruitment Policy of best practice for your use, which is available online at NFCCRecruitmentPolicy.docx. This is intended for you to download, review and adapt to meet the needs of your own fire and rescue service and your recruitment approach.

Vacancy Management and Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is the process of balancing your workforce resource against your workforce needs so that you have enough skilled employees to meet demand. It includes analysing your current workforce, deciding on your workforce needs for the future, identifying any gaps between now and the future, and then deciding how you are going to approach this gap.

In short, it is about getting the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time, and making sure you have taken into account the cost of this plan and against available budget. All this planning needs to then be delivered using a blend of the right contracts to make sure that your Service can deliver a quality service to the communities you serve with a future-focused approach.

Some fire and rescue services may have dedicated workforce planning teams, and for others it may be incorporated into the wider HR function. Effective workforce planning can include:

  • Reduction in labour costs through efficient workforce management
  • Reduction in labour costs through effective vacancy management
  • Increased workforce flexibility delivered via a range of contractual approaches
  • Better ability to respond to changing sector contexts
  • Planning for workforce development with organisational design and development
  • Reducing inefficiency with better teams and job design
  • Improved productivity and quality of service
  • Effective talent management plans
  • Succession planning

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The NFCC Model Policy on Workforce Planning is available online.

We have also been able to provide a suite of workforce planning resources for you here, which were kindly developed and provided by Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service for use on the Recruitment Hub.

Icon Description automatically generatedWorkforce Planning Word Doc

Icon Description automatically generatedWorkforce Planning PowerPoint Guide

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Positive Action - Guidance and Case Studies

To achieve the aim of employing a workforce that is representative of the communities that we serve, it is important to recognise that we will need to encourage applications from under-represented for jobs within our fire & rescue services. By using positive action initiatives and by providing a range of support mechanisms early on in the Firefighter recruitment process, we can help applicants to be more likely to succeed.

Using positive action activities to help attract a diverse range of talent can be further supported by the introduction of coaching and mentoring programmes. Targeted social media campaigns and development activities will all help to attract and support under-represented groups to apply to your Service.

Positive Action is legally allowed, but as an employer, you must be able to evidence that any positive action activities you undertake have been reasonably considered and will not discriminate against others, either directly or indirectly. Using and completing an Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) as part of the preparations for planning your positive action activities will help you to identify areas, whilst also offering you an opportunity to remove or mitigate any disadvantage and drive improvement.

To assist you with your Positive Action approach, we have provided the following for you:

Icon Description automatically generatedPositive Action Resources

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We have also provided some below examples of some of the initiatives that fire & rescue services are conducting across the UK. We would like to thank all those people who have kindly contributed to this work and so generously share their experiences.

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Provide ideas around the sort of things that fire and rescue services have been doing and the results that ensued

Training Interviewers

During the selection process, it is important that assessors and interviewers are aware of the possible occurrence of bias affecting their decision-making in identifying successful candidates. Guarding against bias is best addressed by providing training to all assessors in advance of the launch of any recruitment process.

Realistically, eliminating bias completely isn’t a very practicable achievement, since any process that involves human decision-making will be subjective to some degree. However, by providing training on the following topic areas, you will help to reduce and mitigate it.

  • Confirmation Bias
  • The Halo Effect
  • The Horns Effect
  • Transference
  • Successive contrasting bias


  • Further information on each of the above can be viewed in the Recruitment Hub in Step Two – Application and candidate review; Training Assessors here
  • The CIPD report ‘A head for hiring’ (page 16) available here has more information on biases that you may find useful.

The driver for providing this training should not be purely legal compliance, but should also be viewed as a proactive way to also support your brand and reputation within the community by running a fair recruitment process that upholds your values. This, in turn, will help to encourage applications from a diverse pool of candidates.

Assessor training can be achieved by:

  • Requiring mandatory attendance at a briefing session prior to shortlisting.
  • Supplying support documents for assessors to reference before and during the process.
  • Devising an in-house learning package, and requiring refresher training to be completed at regular intervals to reduce skills-fade.

Examples of Recruitment Campaigns

Essex Fire & Rescue Service – Myth Busting campaign

The landing page graphic below has been created to help dispel any perceived myths or barriers to becoming a Firefighter. This content then links with more campaign content. The button at the top will take you back to the main website.

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​When you return to the main site, there is an ‘Apply online’ button and a ‘Subscriber’ pop up you can complete to receive e-news.

This campaign is supported by a series of YouTube video content to further deliver their message. Using a range of media to create a campaign will appeal to a diverse range of people and should increase the reach of your comms.

Nottinghamshire FRS – Using Eventbrite for potential candidates to attend a pre-application session.

​Potential wholetime applicants can book on an information event via Eventbrite from this page by clicking on this link: ”Find out more by booking onto one of our wholetime recruitment sessions through Eventbrite.”

The main Careers page promotes careers in all aspects of their service and provides additional information such as case studies, fitness and medical information, FAQs and their recruitment process stages which includes YouTube videos for the practical tests.

This Careers page promotes Wholetime, On-call, Control and Corporate Staff from a single landing page and links with video content on YouTube.

​They have also added a ‘Subscribe’ link so that interested applicants can receive updates on available job opportunities as an effective way to build a subscriber base and potential candidate pool.

Other Online Resources

​East Sussex FRS have provided their ‘Candidate Day’ PowerPoint

​ ​​A selection of further fire & rescue service recruitment campaigns and imagery is available in this flipbook for you to browse.