Indigenous Fire and Rescue Employment Strategy FAQs
What is IFARES?
The Indigenous Fire and Rescue Employment Strategy (IFARES) is an initiative designed by frontline Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) staff in partnership with TAFE NSW. It is a recruitment readiness program for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to prepare, encourage and assist them in becoming permanent Firefighters. It is specifically structured to break down long standing barriers to Indigenous recruitment. This program is only open to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and is run in conjunction with the Aboriginal Learning Centre Campbelltown TAFE.
How does it work?
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander candidates are required to complete an online application. From these applications, candidates are selected to progress to the ‘Tracks to IFARES’ week. This week-long course assesses initial suitability for progression into the full IFARES program.
Following Tracks to IFARES, up to 24 candidates will be selected to undergo the IFARES program.
All IFARES candidates are then required to complete a Certificate IV in Fitness over a six-month period delivered using a block release model of three days once a month. During the six-month program candidates are given an insight into a firefighter’s role as well as undertaking TAFE assessments.
Candidates are provided with support from TAFE NSW and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander FRNSW staff.
What are the eligibility requirements for IFARES?
- be of Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander decent
- have a minimum educational qualification level of Year 10 and/or equivalent
- have a minimum Provisional (green) P2 licence
- complete the online application
- be available to attend a one-week assessment - Tracks to IFARES
How are candidates assessed during the Tracks to IFARES?
Candidates are assessed on the following criteria:
- Demonstrated ability to follow instructions
- Demonstrated commitment to maintain FRNSW values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Courage
- Problem solving skills
- Ability to work cooperatively and respectfully within a team environment
- Sound communication, interpersonal and customer service skills
- Demonstrated ability to work with Aboriginal communities and engage with the broader community about Aboriginal culture and identity.
What is the process after completing Certificate IV in Fitness?
After completing Cert IV, the first step towards becoming a permanent firefighter is the physical aptitude test (PAT). If candidates are unsuccessful in passing the PAT, then they progress no further. For those candidates that do, they are then required to complete online psychometric tests. Candidates will then move to the interview stage, where they face four separate FRNSW interview panels. At interview candidates also complete a supervised online cognitive ability test.
How are candidates assessed to determine if they are suitable to become a permanent firefighter?
Following interviews, candidates are ranked based on assessments from TAFE teachers, FRNSW mentors, results from the online psychometric tests, interviews and two referee reports. A recruitment report is prepared and submitted to the FRNSW Executive Director People and Culture with recommendations on each candidate’s suitability to become a permanent firefighter.
How many recruit places are allocated for IFARES at FRNSW’s State Training College?
None. There is no prior allocation of recruit positions for IFARES candidates. At the end of each IFARES program, the FRNSW Executive Director People and Culture and the Commissioner will analyse the needs of the organisation and the suitability of all the candidates, before deciding on how many will be offered a place with FRNSW as a permanent firefighter
Is there any guarantee that a candidate will become a permanent firefighter?
No. All candidates are advised at the start and during the IFARES program that there is no guarantee of employment on completion. Candidates who complete the program will however obtain a Certificate IV in Fitness, which will assist them in gaining employment in the fitness industry, should they fail to gain employment with FRNSW.
Have the recruitment standards been lowered or modified for IFARES?
No. Standards have not been lowered for the candidates completing IFARES. All candidates are subject to the same psychometric testing, physical aptitude testing, interviewing procedure and medical processes as in the general permanent firefighter recruitment campaign.
However, unlike mainstream recruitment, all IFARES candidates must successfully complete the IFARES program and complete a Certificate IV in Fitness even before being eligible to undergo the FRNSW recruitment process. The IFARES program is a much longer and more intense assessment process. Candidates are observed and assessed during the whole program before they are eligible to be considered to undertake the permanent firefighter recruitment process.
Why have a separate pathway for Indigenous candidates?
FRNSW is committed to ensuring a diverse workforce which is better prepared to serve the NSW community. The IFARES program aims to showcase firefighting as a genuine career option for Indigenous people while also creating a level playing field for all applicants. Previously, the sheer weight of numbers in the mainstream permanent firefighter recruitment campaign have made it very difficult for Indigenous candidates to be successful.
How do I complete an application?
Applications must be submitted online. You must complete all questions and upload a copy of your resume and driver licence (as a PDF, Word or HTML file*).
Can I apply if I have a criminal record?
All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis; however, some serious offences may mean applications are not progressed.
Do I need to have a MR (Medium Rigid) licence?
No, but if successful in gaining a position as a permanent firefighter, candidates must be prepared to obtain a MR licence log book from Roads and Maritime (RMS) as part of FRNSW conditions of employment for permanent firefighters.
I have a medical condition, can I apply?
Candidates must satisfy all FRNSW medical requirements to progress. While all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, some medical conditions have been identified as significant for firefighters, e.g.
- diabetes (or disease of other organs, e.g. eyes, kidney, heart, vascular system or neurological system)
- total knee or hip replacement significant hip, knee or ankle degenerative arthritis hip, knee or ankle injury (with significant loss of range of movement).
Note: colour vision deficiency is no longer a barrier to employment as a permanent firefighter.
All applicants should ensure that information from treating doctors/specialists relating to any pre-existing medical conditions is available at the time of their medical assessment. This will allow timely assessment and avoid delays the processing of their applications.
Do you have to be extremely fit to apply?
The role of a firefighter requires a high level of physical fitness. On the FRNSW website you can download a copy of the FireFit Training Guide and watch videos of each stage of the physical aptitude test (PAT).
How do I find out more about being a permanent firefighter?
Visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au/recruitment for information about the PAT, interview and medical assessments. You can also download a comprehensive ‘FRNSW Candidate Information Pack’ for more information about being a firefighter.