How to become a firefighter?

The procedure to become a firefighter should not be underestimated. A strong motivation is very important, but you also need to dispose of a number of cognitive, technical and physical competences in order to become a member of a fire department.

Moreover, both the professional and voluntary firefighters follow an intense training after their recruitment so that they can guarantee their own safety and the safety of their colleagues and the people they help and protect. The recruitment of the operational personnel of the emergency rescue zones occurs either in the grade of fireman, or in the grade of captain.

Below you find more information on how you can be recruited by an emergency rescue zone.

1.    Register for the Federal Aptitude Certificate

To be able to apply to become a professional or voluntary firefighter, you need to obtain a Federal Aptitude Certificate. To do so, you have to pass a series of three tests. In order to be allowed to take these tests, you need to meet a number of conditions.

Overview of the conditions for participation in the aptitude tests

To be able to participate in the aptitude tests for the Federal Aptitude Certificate, you need to meet, for the grade of fireman, the following conditions on the date of your registration:

  • You are a Belgian citizen or a citizen of another country of the European Economic Area or of Switzerland.
  • You are at least 18 years old.
  • You have a behaviour that is in line with the requirements of the desired vacancy. The candidate provides an excerpt from the criminal record that is delivered within a period of three months before the final submission date for the candidatures.
  • You dispose of your civil and political rights.
  • You are in order with the military service laws
  • You dispose of a driving licence B
  • You dispose of a medical certificate that states that you are able to do the physical aptitude tests. This certificate needs to be drawn up at the earliest three months before the start of the physical tests.

Moreover you need to dispose of a swimming certificate for 100 meters in order to obtain your Federal Aptitude Certificate. However, you only need to show this when you take the last test. This way you can still obtain the swimming certificate while you are taking the other tests.

Additional conditions for the Federal Aptitude Certificate in the grade of captain:

  • When you register for the Federal aptitude certificate at the level of Captain, you have to be a Belgian citizen. This is legally prescribed this way because it has to be possible to requisition officers of the fire departments.
  • You dispose of a diploma of level A

When you meet the conditions, you can register for the aptitude tests. The tests are divided into a competence test, an operational dexterity test and the physical aptitude tests.

Overview of the tests for the Federal Aptitude Certificate

1.    The competence test
Here one tests whether you dispose of the following competences:

  • for the grade of fireman (basic executives): the level of the sixth year secondary technical an vocational training
  • for the grade of captain (middle management): comparable to the competences required from a person having a diploma of level A

2.    The operational dexterity test
Here one tests your knowledge and your technical skills by means of a number of practical tests.

3.    The physical aptitude tests
Here one tests your physical aptitude.

These tests consist of the following components:

Part 1 – Physical series of tests:

  1. pull-ups
  2. climb
  3. balance
  4. walk while squatting
  5. push-ups
  6. drag a canvas
  7. drag a hose
  8. roll up a hose
  9. stairclimbing

Part 2 – Ladder test

Part 3 – Endurance test

Part 4 – Dispose of a swimming certificate for at least hundred meters

The aptitude tests are eliminating. You are being declared fit or unfit.

The eleven training centres for the civil security organize the aptitude tests you need to pass in order to obtain your Federal Aptitude Certificate. You can choose yourself in which training centre for the civil security you register. This has nothing to do with the zone you want to apply at or the province you live in. Yet, do take into account that the tests are not organized with a certain regularity and that it can go faster in some cases when you register at the training centre of another province.

The Federal Aptitude Certificate is valid for an unlimited duration, except for the physical aptitude tests. When you apply at an emergency rescue zone, you need to have passed the physical tests less than two years before (the date of the conclusion of the official report of the aptitude tests you took part in, counts). If you passed more than two years earlier, then you need to pass the physical tests again. You can register at the earliest six months before the end of the period of two years to participate again.

It is not necessary to obtain the Federal Aptitude Certificate to be able to apply for a firefighter position at the Brussels Fire Brigade.

When you pass the first test, you will be contacted by a training centre for the civil security. They also organize the rest of the tests. When you pass all tests, they send you your Federal Aptitude Certificate in the month following the conclusion of the official report of all aptitude tests.

Click here for an overview of the training centres for the civil security.

2.    Apply at the emergency rescue zone of your choice

Once you obtained your Federal Aptitude Certificate, you can apply at the emergency rescue zone of your choice. Regularly check the vacancies on the website of your emergency rescue zone and the job page of this website so that you stay informed of the latest vacancies. Take into account that you have to live or work near your station if you’d like to become a volunteer.

Every emergency rescue zone can organize extra tests, on top of the tests of the Federal Aptitude Certificate. You need to pass these tests as well before you can be recruited. Obtaining the certificate is thus no guarantee to be recruited as a staff member of the emergency rescue zone. Taking the tests is a requirement before each recruitment procedure.

Click here for the contact details of the emergency rescue zones of the Belgian fire departments.

For more information on the recruitment of firefighters, the federal aptitude certificate and the aptitude tests:

  • News report of 24 September 2015: Ontwerp Koninklijk Besluit brandweeropleidingen goedgekeurd in Ministerraad (Draft of Royal Decree regarding the training for firefighters, approved in the Council of Ministers)
    Until the new Royal Decree regarding the training for firefighters comes into force, nothing changes yet for the training centres and the participants of the federal aptitude tests. Until the publication of this new Royal Decree, the current Royal Decree regarding the training of the firefighters of 21 February 2011remains valid.
  • The Royal Decree of 19 April 2014 regarding the determination of the administrative statute of the operational personnel of the emergency rescue zones
  • The Royal Decree of 21 February 2011 regarding the training of the members of the public emergency services.
  • The ministerial circular of 26 March 2015 regarding the federal aptitude certificate for the future operational personnel of the emergency rescue zones