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Apply to be an on-call firefighter

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Here are the most common questions we’ve been asked


What are on-call firefighters?

On-call firefighters respond to emergency calls from home or work when their pager goes off, rather than being based full-time at a fire station.

Can anyone be a on-call firefighter?

Yes, provided you are over 18 years old when your employment starts, meet the entry criteria and conditions of living/working in the right area. There is no upper age limit.

Do I need any qualifications?

No, but you will need to pass the assessment day. If you can evidence prior learning through a level two qualification in Maths and English you would not be required to sit the Working with Numbers and Understanding Information tests.

What if I wear contact lenses or glasses?

Your eyesight doesn’t have to be perfect to be a firefighter, but applicants are required to undertake an eye test as part of the recruit medical.

You must meet the required vision standards to pass the recruit medical which is at the end of the application process – if you are unsure of how well you can see then go to an optician, take the below information with you and get an eye test before you apply to make sure you have the required standard.

Firefighters require a certain level of eyesight to enable them to carry out their role safely and must meet a nationally required standard of both distance and near vision when applying to join the fire service.

Safety glasses are provided by the service, including inserts for Breathing Apparatus (BA); all contact lenses are discouraged on operational duty though, as they may compound eye contamination with chemicals or particulate. Hard lenses cannot be worn with breathing apparatus masks.

How well we see at a distance is measured by opticians using a Snellen Chart and it is recorded as two numbers – 6/6 – for example.

The corrected distance vision standard is 6/9 both eyes together, and a minimum of 6/12 in the worse eye. The minimum uncorrected vision for recruits must be 6/18 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worse eye. Vision must be binocular – both eyes together.

For reading documents/equipment dials close up, we use a Near Vision chart to test your vision which is recorded as a letter N and a number indicating the level of near vision.

Applicants aged 25 and over must be able to read N12 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open, applicants under 25 years of age must be able to read N6 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open. A normal field of vision – how well you can see up, down and to the sides – is also required.

If you are considering laser eye surgery to improve your vision, there may be a delay in letting you apply, please seek advice from our occupational health service before you undertake it so that the implications can be talked through with you.

There should be no history of night blindness or any eye disease that is likely to progress and result in the future failure of the visual standard.

All colour vision defects are assessed individually by risk assessment at the recruit medical stage and may not be a barrier to recruitment, but you’ll not be able to become a firefighter if you are a Monochromat – only able to see in black, white and shades of grey.

Are there any height limits?

There are no minimum or maximum height restrictions.

Do on-call firefighters get paid?

On-call firefighters get paid for the time they tell us they are available to work, regardless of whether they are called out, as well as an additional hourly rate for attending incidents and training. The amount you get will depend on your availability, but on average on-call firefighters earn anywhere between £4000 to £8000 a year, sometimes more.

How close to a fire station do I need to be?

There is no set distance but we usually ask that you can get to a fire station within five minutes, while observing speed limits. You could also run, walk or cycle if this is easier.

Can I pick which station I work at?

Due to the response times required you need to live or work within five minutes of one of our on-call stations.

What hours would I be expected to work?

That depends on the needs of the station and what hours you can provide. It will also depend upon whether you are able to respond from work or home. We do ask for a minimum of 90 hours a week, but remember, that only means you’re available to respond over that time, not that you’re working for 90 hours. Options include evening, daytime and/or weekend cover and we’re flexible so it’s always worth asking what your options are. Shift workers also find that the role can suite their irregular shift patterns.

How often will I be called out?

This depends upon your station area and your hours of availability, but on average two to three times per week for an hour or so at a time. In hot summers you may be busier with grass fires, and alternatively during prolonged wet periods you may attend more flooding incidents. No two calls are the same.

How will I know when to respond to an incident?

After you complete your initial basic training you’ll be given a pager which will sound when you’re needed to attend an emergency call. You will then be required to get to your station immediately, but safely, within the specified time.

Can I go shopping, visit people or go out while I am on-call?

Yes, but you must make sure that you carry your pager and that you can still get to the station within the specified time. If you need to go further afield you may be able to book unavailable for a short period if there is sufficient cover at the station. For longer periods you’ll be able to take annual leave.

Can I socialise while I’m on-call?

Yes you can, as long as you stay within the agreed response time of the station and do not drink alcohol.

What if I am caring for dependants?

If you are caring for dependants when you are on-call, you must ensure that you have alternative arrangements in place in case you need to attend an emergency.

How do I apply?

Simply create an online account and fill out your details and we’ll be in touch.