And as well as injecting fresh blood into the organisation, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service its new application process will give better chances to a younger and more diverse pool than before.
However, numbers signing up to the scheme, which is being run with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, were also about half what was initially expected.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority Human Resources Committee, assistant chief officer (ACO) John Baines said: “This is the first time since 2010 that we’ve recruited.
“We’ve done some inter-service transfers, but bringing in new firefighters is essential for the service.”
He added: “Registration opened on July 9 and we’ve had just under 5,000 apply and it was only up for five days.
“We were anticipating we would get more, but it’s still an awful lot to work through.”
A total budget of £220,000 has been set aside to recruit and train the 20 successful candidates.
This includes £18,900 to use the Fire Service College’s online portal.
Initial predictions were that there would be about 10,000 applicants for the jobs, but ACO Baines told the panel this could be due to the length of time since the service’s last recruitment drive.
He added the new process, which has eight separate stages, could improve access for younger applicants whose lack experience can be a disadvantage.
After an initial eligibility screening they will have to complete tests and questionnaires relating to behaviour, ‘situational judgement’ and numeracy, before a practical assessment and interview.
ACO Baines said: “We want the very best from all parts of society.”
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service