What is the National Firefighter Ability (NFA) test?
The National Firefighter Ability tests are a series of assessments required to be completed by prospective candidates to UK Fire and Rescue Authorities.
All tests, excluding the latter physical assessment, are multiple-choice. Each test has been specifically crafted for the fire service to assess relevant abilities and attributes.
As in many other sectors, tailored psychometric tests provide an effective way of ensuring the best candidates advance in the recruitment process. The tests are used to assess your abilities and gauge your suitability for a career in the fire service.
Scoring highly in each round of testing is important, as competition for vacancies is strong. Given the nature and responsibility of the role, only the candidates with the most impressive skills will be successful.
The Format of the NFA Test
The results of five tests form your overall result in the NFA test:
- The National Firefighter Questionnaire
- The Working with Numbers test
- The Understanding Information test
- The Situational Awareness & Problem-Solving test
- The Physical Ability test
Each individual test differs in format, length and structure, as explored in greater detail below and through the associated psychometric test links.
How the tests are administered will vary according to the individual station or authority. Some prefer to set the written tests for candidates to complete online at home, whilst others hold them at testing centres.
You will be told the particulars of the process for your individual situation, most likely soon after your initial application is lodged.
The physical ability test is obviously required to be taken in-person, likely at the premises of the authority or station to which you have applied. Ensure you will be able to travel to the required location on the given date.
National Firefighter Questionnaire (NFQ)
This specialised personality test explores your personal qualities and attributes (or PQAs) and usually forms part of your initial application to the relevant Fire and Rescue Authority. It aims to discover whether your personality traits align with those needed to become a successful firefighter.
The questions centre on the following seven qualities: working with others; confidence and resilience; commitment to excellence; commitment to diversity and integrity; openness to change; situational awareness and commitment to development.
Be aware that, at 127 questions, this test is lengthy. Ensure your concentration levels remain high so that your responses are consistent.
Personality tests can be daunting because of their subjectivity but, with preparation, you will feel confident in demonstrating how well matched you are for the occupation.
Working with Numbers Test
The NFA Working with Numbers test is a numerical reasoning assessment designed to determine whether an applicant has the mental arithmetic and basic mathematical skills needed to work as a firefighter.
This is an important aspect as crew members are required to interpret gauges and calculate hose volumes, often under severe pressure.
The test is multiple-choice and comprises a number of scenarios with accompanying numerical information. This information may be in the form of graphs, charts, plans or tables. There will be a total of 32 questions.
A calculator is not permitted, but rough working paper is allowed. The test has a duration of 45 minutes.
Understanding Information Test
The NFA Understanding Information test is a specialised verbal reasoning test. As a firefighter you will need to rapidly understand and act on written information, so this exam explores your mental agility when it comes to interpreting text.
A selection of scenarios – and their accompanying written materials, such as an email, newsletter, safety sign or information leaflet – will be presented. You will be required to answer a series of multiple-choice questions on each text. This test has a duration of 35 minutes to answer 25 questions.
Be careful to answer using only the information provided in the scenarios. Also be wary of excess data that is only included to distract.
Situational Awareness and Problem-Solving Test
The NFA Situational Awareness and Problem-Solving test is a situational judgement test intended to assess your behaviour and reactions to certain scenarios and when exposed to different pressures.
Thirty scenarios will be presented, all assessing how well you act to ensure the safety of yourself and others. The test is multiple-choice, with candidates expected to select the option that most closely reflects the course of action they would take.
No prior knowledge is needed to complete the test. Answer as honestly as you can, taking time to consider your answer but not deliberating too much over each choice. You will have 35 minutes to complete the assessment.