We run the Recruitment Process at a national level twice a year, typically in January and June. To become a Career Firefighter, you’ll need to complete our Recruitment Process. Each step must be completed successfully before progressing to the next:

The recruitment process

1. Information & practice day (Not compulsory)

You are welcome to attend an Information Day aimed at giving you a good grasp of what the job entails. You will have a chance to speak to current Career Firefighter’s and ask any questions you may have regarding the role. 

The Practice Day allows you to see the full Physical Pre-Entry Test with an instructor demonstration. Then, if time permits, everyone will have the opportunity to test themselves on the course.  This is valuable to gauge where you are at physically against our requirements and allows you to tailor your training programme. 

Occasionally we run Information and Practice Days together.

2. Online Application and Shortlisting

Complete an outline Expression of Interest (EOI)

This is the application stage. Make sure you fit our entry requirements

Applications to become a Career Firefighter are open Nationally twice per year for 4 weeks at a time.

3. & 4. Cognitive Testing & Psychometric Assessment

We are looking for the:

  • desired cognitive abilities and personality preferences needed for the role of firefighter
  • ability to develop the understanding required to attain the necessary skills and knowledge of job-related concepts for the role of firefighter

If you are successful at the online application, you will be asked to complete the:

  • General Ability Screen: this is a timed, 10-minute assessment that includes items that cover numerical ability, verbal ability, deductive reasoning (drawing logical conclusions from available information), and abstract reasoning (identifying patterns in nonverbal stimuli).
  • Further through the process (after a successful PPT) you will be invited to complete the Occupational Personality Questionnaire: you will be presented with a number of statements, and in each set you will be asked to select the statement that is most like you and the one that is least like you. This questionnaire is used to measure your preferred or typical way of working.

Our cognitive assessment has changed:

The General Ability Screener and Occupational Personality Questionnaire have both been part of the cognitive assessment for many years. We are running a pilot study in which we aim to investigate whether it is feasible to get the same calibre of quality candidates with these alone. This will be reviewed following the completion of this recruitment round.

Preparing for the Online Assessments:

  • The General Ability Screen (when sent to you to complete) will provide a short practice test before starting the actual assessment. Be sure to complete the practice questions. 
  • Full length practice assessments can be found here. This will provide you with the opportunity to get the feel for completing assessments under timed conditions. However, please note that the level of difficulty of the practice tests may not exactly reflect the level of difficulty of the test you will be asked to complete. Please note: not all services offered by SHL apply to our recruitment process.
  • Before completing any of the assessments, make sure that you have set yourself up in a quiet, well-lit room that is free from distraction. Complete the assessments at a time when you feel at your best. 

Candidates will undergo a verification test prior at the Physical Pre-Entry test day.

5. Physical Testing

Candidates interested in paid operational positions are required to pass the Physical Pre-Entry Test; composing of 8 job related scenarios, and 4 tests of general strength and endurance.

Candidates will be timed from the commencement of the first job related scenario until completion of the last scenario. The candidates total time must be less than 8 minutes and 15 seconds.  There will be then a 7-minute rest before commencing the strength & endurance testing.

To see the full physical test, download the PPT Guide for Candidates

Candidates will also be required to conduct a final two tests for:

  1. Heights – you will be expected to perform simple tasks, while working on a 10.5 metre ladder, and
  2. Confined Spaces – you will operate in a dark environment

Watch our video to see what the test entails and how to prepare. For guidelines on how to prepare for this test, see our FENZfit Training Programme.

6. Practical Assessment

At the Practical Assessment Course (PAC) you will be asked to undergo a series of activities, both individually and as part of a team, where you will be observed and assessed in how well you:

  • Work and communicate with people, both within a team environment as an individual
  • Solve problems by looking for and implementing solutions within team activities and as an individual
  • Understand and follow verbal and written instructions
  • Adapt and respond to changing circumstances and cope with various pressures and setbacks while carrying out tasks
  • Display some practical skills to achieve objectives

The PAC is held at a Training Centre or Operational fire station in the following places: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. It  will take approximately 3 hours.

You will be required to complete your PAC at the nearest centre to your preferred location.

7. Formal Interview

Successful candidates will be invited to a behavioural and situational based interview. The panel will consist of a Recruitment Assessor, a Human Resource Manager and a ranked Fire and Emergency New Zealand Officer.

This interview will take approximately an hour with questions asked around the core competencies of a firefighter.

Check out some tips on how to prepare for the formal interview. 

8. Background Checks

Police vetting

During Practical Assessment Centre day (PAC) day you will have been asked to complete a Police Vetting form. If you are invited to interview this Police Check will get underway.

Make sure there are no surprises at this point by requesting a copy of your own police check before commencing the application process. The Ministry of Justice website has information on getting a copy of your criminal record

Medical check

If you are recommended for employment and a job is available, you will be asked to do a medical assessment to assess your suitability for a role as a Career Firefighter and to investigate any potential health related issues prior to employment.

The cost of your initial medical examination will be met by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. You just have to arrange an appointment with your usual Doctor or medical centre.

Reference check

You will be asked to choose two people to be your referees. They will be asked to fill in an online reference about you. Contact details must be provided by the referees as the Region employing you may choose to call your referee to discuss your suitability.

9. Final Acceptance & 12-week course

Successful candidates will be invited to attend a 12-week live-in course at our National Training Centre in Rotorua. It’s vital that as a recruit you prepare – both physically and mentally.

Please note: Before you commence your 12-week training course you will be asked to attend a Physical Pre-Entry Test revaluation to ensure you are maintaining your fitness.

Training courses normally commence in January, April, July and September each year. We'll keep in touch with you throughout the process and do our best to meet your preferred start date wherever possible. 

The 12-week recruit course is the most challenging but the most rewarding part of the whole process. It includes studying and practising to develop the mental and physical toughness needed to start work as a firefighter.

We put you up for the duration. Hearty meals and accommodation is provided.

Watch our video to see what the course involves.


Final acceptance is dependent on successful graduation.

Watch our video to find out about life as a firefighter after graduating.

Stand downs

If you have been unsuccessful twice in PAC or 3 times at interview we have a 12 month stand down. After that time you are welcome to again apply.

A 6 month stand down is in place with the cognitive assessments if you are unsuccessful. However; as the National Round only runs twice yearly – it is negligible.

It may be the case that a cognitive stand down applies if a Region/District  Recruitment Round runs in between National Rounds. If this is the case – you will be notified.