Routes into the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Date: November 9, 2023
Categories: 11-15 | 16-18 | 19-24 | Featured | Meet Your Future

Meet Your Future: National Careers Week 2023

Careers in the Public Sector

Routes into the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

For National Careers Week this year, we wanted to highlight careers in the public sector, whether that be politics, fire, police, law, travel, or health. We’ve heard from young people in GM that they’re interested in careers in these areas of the economy but perhaps don’t quite know where to start or just don’t know enough about what some of these jobs are like.

To help, we sat down with people working in each of these public sector areas and asked them to tell us a bit about how they got started in their career and what routes are available for young people to start off.

We’ll be releasing a write up for each of these 6 public sector areas, so keep an eye on the GMACS blog to see each one as they come out!

Our second session for National Careers Week was with Jane Jeffrey, a Watch Manager and the Firefighter Attraction Lead for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS). She spoke about what it’s like to be a firefighter and how you could get started in the sector if it’s something you think you might be interested in.

What is the Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service?

The Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, or GMFRS, is the service responsible for putting out fires, responding to a range of other incidents, as well as fire prevention and community engagement work. It works across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, so it’s got a huge area to cover. GMFRS is one of the biggest fire and rescue services in the UK.

Because of the area that GMFRS has to cover, there’s a huge amount of variety in the work that firefighters undertake. Jane explained that the different geographical areas in Greater Manchester have different needs. The range of waterways, industrial land, and moorland across the city region mean that GMFRS has a lot of different specialist vehicles.

All of this means that there’s plenty to get your teeth stuck into with a career in GMFRS, whether that’s as a firefighter, mechanic or other support staff.

What is a day in the life of a firefighter like?

You might think that being a firefighter is just about putting out fires, but as Jane explains in the session, there’s lots of other things in each and every day. It can be hard to give a sense of all this variety, but here’s what a typical day could be like as a firefighter.

First of all, if you’re starting on a day shift (firefighters do day and night shifts), you’ll start at half 8 in the morning with the change of watch (each shift is referred to as a watch). This is a short parade-style event followed by an appliance check, where you look over and check every piece of equipment that might be needed. This means spending an hour testing everything, making sure it’s clean, including equipment in lockers, toolkits and anything else. This is a vital part of the day as everything needs to be ready to go if an incident happens that the team needs to respond to.

After this process, which happens at the start of every single watch, it’s on to some training time. This might be short drills or some physical training, with a morning break in this time as well. Then, it’s on to lunch, with afternoons more about community work or “operational intelligence visits.” These are all about making sure that firefighter teams have a great understanding of the local area and any specific risks in the community.

Of course, the other side of this is that a typical day for a firefighter also involves responding to any incidents that occur! Whenever this happens, the watch team will stop whatever they’re doing and immediately respond to the incident – something known as “turning out.”

How do you become a firefighter?

Becoming a firefighter is a long process, and it can take up to 6 months. There are a lot of separate stages that you’ll need to go through – you can read more on the GMFRS website. The routes in are an initial recruits course, followed by a Firefighter apprenticeship course. This is a level 3 apprenticeship which takes 2 years.

Careers tip: In the video, Jane gives her 2 top tips to anyone thinking about becoming a firefighter. The first is around physical fitness. You’ll need to pass a running “bleep test” to become a firefighter, as well as being physically fit with good upper body strength. Jane says it’s never too early to start working on this.


Jane’s other top tip is on English and Maths. Part of the apprenticeship is getting a level 2 qualification in English and Maths, so you’ll need a level 1 to start this. She also says that if you get level 2 qualifications in English and Maths before starting then you won’t need to achieve them again on the apprenticeship, so it can be a helpful head start!

To find out more about careers in the fire service, you can watch the full video with Jane Jeffrey above. Or click the button below to see the GMFRS recruitment pages. Remember you can follow GMACS on Twitter or Instagram to keep up to date with all our blogs in the future!