How to become a firefighter in South Australia

Becoming a firefighter in South Australia isn’t easy, you’ll have to get through every stage of the highly competitive recruitment process. This article is designed to help boost your chances of success by explaining what’s expected of you in each step of the process.

Note – this is a guide specifically designed for South Australia. If you’re looking for advice on how to become a firefighter in general I recommend reading this guide.

New here? Welcome! I’m Brett Clayton. An active firefighter with a wealth of experience in the firefighter recruitment process. I have a huge passion for helping people pursue careers in the fire service, and you can learn more about my mentoring here.

Brent Clayton at his desk.

Which Service Should You Join? 

In this guide, I’ll be covering getting into the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS). This service covers over 90% of the South Australian population with the other two fire services in South Australia (The SASES and SA Country Fire Service) volunteer-based. If you’re looking for a paid career in firefighting in South Australia, the MFS is the way to go.

The MFS is expecting a large number of resignations and retirements within the next 3 to 5 years. To counter this they will run Firefighter Recruitment and Selection Campaigns annually; great news for applicants. 

How to Become a Firefighter in South Australia

Check your Eligibility

Before you even start the application, make sure you check that you’re eligible for the role. You can find the requirements in full here but here’s our summary:

  • Applicants must provide evidence of being able to work and reside in Australia permanently.
  • At the time of applying you must have a current and valid C Class driver’s license.
  • An MR driver’s licence will need to be obtained (at your expense) before the recruit course starts (time will be allocated for getting this)
  • You must be willing to obtain a HR driver’s license (at your expense) within your first 12 months of employment.

Submit Your Application

Submitting an application is the first step in the recruitment process. When applications open, you will have a limited amount of time to do so (normally around 2 weeks). The online application form is only available during the timeframe that applications are open.

When applications are live, you will be able to apply online here: https://www.mfs.sa.gov.au/join-us/

If you are successful in satisfying the application requirements, you will then need to pay a $100 application fee. This is to cover admin costs incurred during the handling of applications. This is a non-refundable fee, and no part of it is retained by the MFS.

South Australia Application Fee Exemptions

You could be exempt from paying the application fee if you hold a Department of Human Services (DHS) concession card. 

Be certain you hold a valid card before claiming any exemptions. Proof that you hold one will be required to progress to the next stage of the application. Failure to provide your card will see you excluded from the process.

Quick Tip: the Fire Service has a no-nonsense approach surrounding late applications. Make sure you get your application in on time or you won’t be considered.

Personality Profiling and Abilities Assessment

If you are successful in your application, the next step will be an assessment. This assessment will allow the fire service to judge whether you have the character traits needed to become a firefighter for the Metropolitan Fire Service.

The test will be taken online from your home without supervision; it’s vital you don’t abuse this. Applicant authenticity is taken very seriously and there are strict controls in place to ensure you don’t cheat. If your test results are found to be inauthentic you could face severe consequences.

The assessment will last approximately 90 minutes. If you pass the assessment your result will be valid for up to two years. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to access feedback for either part of the assessment.

Quick Tip: make use of practice tests to prepare so you know what to expect when the big day comes. Click here to try this free practice aptitude test.

Physical Aptitude Test 1 (PAT 1)

Your next challenge will be the PAT 1 Shuttle Run. This test is known as the BEEP test and will test your cardiovascular fitness. You will be required to run back and forth between two points 20 meters apart.

The goal is to get to each point in time with the beep sounds which get progressively faster making the test harder as it goes on.

In order to proceed to the next stage, you will need to achieve a score of 9.6

The test will be held at the MFS Adelaide Station Gymnasium. It’s important you bring the following with you:

  • Proof of identity
  • Evidence of being able to reside in Australia permanently
  • A completed medical examiners declaration
  • Your applicant’s declaration

 

Here is a BEEP test demonstration video:

If you want more further information on the PAT 1 test I suggest reading this document.

Quick Tip: during preparation, don’t train to reach 9.6 try to go well beyond this. This will allow you to easily reach the pass mark during the real test!

Panel Interview

A Panel Interview is the next stage in the recruitment process. This is your chance to show that you are a suitable candidate and have a passion to join the fire service.

The questions you face will allow the interviewer to analyse your transferable skills, life experience and get to know how well suited you are to a career as a firefighter in South Australia.

Before the interview, you will need to submit a copy of your CV, which will be discussed with the panel. Once your interview has finished, you will need to complete an Informed Consent Form, which will allow the MFS to obtain a record of your criminal history.

This will only be processed if you are successful during the interview. It’s also important that you bring a photocopy of your birth certificate or passport and a photocopy of your driver’s licence. 

Quick Tip: try to prepare a couple of questions to ask the interviewers. This shows you’ve done your homework but also demonstrates your willingness to learn more about the service.

Physical Aptitude Test 2 (PAT 2)

The second physical aptitude test is made up of simulated tasks that you would be expected to face as a firefighter. This demonstrates your competency in performing the real-life tasks that occur at the scene of an emergency or rescue operation.

Whether you’re male or female you will be completing the same test and will be expected to complete it to the same standard.

This part of the recruitment process takes place at the MFS Headquarters and you will need to bring proof of identity as well as the applicant’s declaration with you.

Quick Tip: use the video above to familiarise yourself with the tasks in the PAT 2. This will help you make tweaks to your training plan that will benefit your performance on the day of the test.

Pre-Employment Checks

If you successfully reach this stage you will be given 5 weeks to provide the MFS with the following documentation (costs to be covered by the applicant):

  • Evidence of a current and valid MR licence.
  • A copy of current First Aid Certification for Provide First Aid (HLTAID003)

During this time the MFS will complete your criminal history check and seek your work references.

Medical Checks

You will be expected to attend a series of medical examinations. These are based upon the standards of health and fitness required of a career firefighter. Such examinations include:

  • Respiratory
  • Audiology
  • Full Medical

If further assessments are required these will be arranged by the MFS who will also cover any associated costs. Before your appointments, you will need to allow 15 minutes to fill out the appropriate forms.

Criminal History

You will need to consent to the MFS obtaining personal information related to your criminal history. This will involve the completion of a National Criminal History check. The results of the check will be considered case-by-case.

Driver History

A Driver Licence History Report is required after successful completion of stage and 4 of the recruitment process. You will need to provide details of all traffic infringements over the last 10 years.

Safety is an important aspect of being a firefighter, if you have a serious traffic offence within the past 10 years it will be considered grounds for a 10-year disqualification (from the date of the offence) from being considered as an employee. 

Learn more about Driver Licence History reports by clicking here.

Referees

The purpose of the MFS seeking out references is to gather information on how you perform in a work capacity. They are also helpful for validating any claims made by the applicant during the application process.

You will be required to provide the contact details of 2 referees (a supervisor and a peer). If possible inform your referees they will be contacted to help avoid any delays.

Firefighter Salary in South Australia

If you’re looking for a career in the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service, you might be wondering how much firefighters get paid.

According to Indeed, firefighters make an average salary of $78,665 each year in South Australia.

You will be pleased to know that as a recruit you will be paid at a gross rate of $993.88 per week (as of 1/01/2020). You can find a detailed breakdown of pay for different roles in South Australia on page 31 of the MFS Enterprise Agreement.

If you’re looking for a little extra help and support in getting through the recruitment process, we’d love to hear from you! Click here today to take our course and boost your chances of being successful.

Brent wearing firefighter shirt