Practical Selection Tests

The Practical Selection Tests (PSTs) are designed to assess whether candidates have the ability to carry out the more physical and practical aspects of the role.

Download our Recruitment Health and Fitness Guide for more information. 

The following 7 tests will form part of the practical selection testing on the day.  There may be other tests on the day to check attributes including numeracy and upper body strength.

The tests used are as follows:

1. Ladder Climb

Before candidates start each test, the Assessor for each specific test will read out the Test Brief and detailed instructions for the test. Before candidates carry out each test they will be asked to confirm that they fully understand the instructions and whether they have any questions.

The ladder climb is a test of confidence whilst working at height. An Instructor will first demonstrate the test. Candidates will then commence the test, demonstrating the correct ‘leg lock’ just above ground level before commencing the test. Wearing full Personal protective equipment (PPE), including a harness attached to a fall-arrest system, candidates must ascend a 13.5 metre ladder, extended to the third floor of the drill tower to two-thirds of its height and demonstrate a ‘leg lock’.

The candidate will then lean back with arms outstretched to the side and look down to the Test Instructor to identify and call out a symbol that they will hold up. The candidate will then descend in the correct manner demonstrated.

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2. Ladder Extension

This test comprises an apparatus which simulates a standard aluminium 10.5/13.5m Fire Service Ladder assesses physical ability and upper body strength. You will be required to extend the ladder using the extending line until it is at full extension. It will automatically pawl (lock in position).

Ladder Extension to Lower

You will then be required to release the pawl and house (lower) the ladder in a controlled manner. Extending and lowering the ladder in this manner equates to controlling the weight of approximately 42 kg.

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3. Casualty Evacuation

This is a test of lower and upper body strength.  Candidates wearing full PPE are required to move a 55 kg casualty.  The candidates will move the casualty a set distance, around a cone and back to the start point.  This test will be timed.

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4. Working in Confined Spaces 


This is a test of confidence, agility and possible claustrophobia whilst working in an enclosed space. Candidates wearing full PPE and a Breathing Apparatus facemask will be required to negotiate a measured crawl-way within a set time. The crawl-way is a series of tunnels.

Candidates are required to feel with their hands to the left, right, above and below to find the route. There are also obstacles to negotiate along the way.

Candidates will work as part of a team and will also be assessed on their communication and teamworking skills.

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 5. Equipment Assembly

This is a test of manual dexterity. Candidates will be required to assemble and disassemble a ram unit wearing full PPE. The pieces will be laid out in the correct order and the photos will be displayed next to the assembly point.

Once the unit has been assembled completely and correctly, the Assessor will then give you the signal to start disassembling the unit in reverse order, placing each item back on the board in the correct position. 

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6. Equipment Carry

This is a test of aerobic fitness, muscular strength and stamina. Candidates wearing full PPE will be required to:

Pick up the hose reel from an appliance and run with it for one length (25 metres) to the cone, then jog back (25 metres) to the start.

Pick up two coiled 70mm red hose by the handles and carry them up and down the course for four lengths (100 metres), then place one back at the start. Weight of each hose is 13.5kg

With the remaining coiled 70mm red hose, pick it up by the centre lugs and carry at chest height down to the cone 25 metres away. Place it down and then jog three lengths (75 metres) to return to the start.  Weight of hose is 13.5kg

Pick up and carry the 2.4 metre suction hose (hard hose) and basket strainer for four lengths (100 metres), then place them back down and jog four lengths (100 metres) of the course. Weight of hose is 11kg | Weight of basket strainer is 3kg

Finally candidates will pick up and carry the powerbag up and down the course four lengths (100 metres).  Weight: 27.5kg

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7. Practical Calculation Test

This is a test of your ability to carry out role related numerical calculations on the job.  You will be asked to complete a Breathing Apparatus entry level calculation test.  This test is used to validate and verify the results of the online calculation test and your ability to work out numerical calculations accurately.  Further information on these type of tests can be found on the SHL website. Download our Calculation test sample.

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