Retained firefighters often have another job and rather than being based at a fire station, provide on-call cover from home or work. They respond to emergencies when their pager alerts them, so must live or work near the fire station.
Retained firefighters, like their full-time colleagues, are trained to deal with a wide range of situations and incidents. Fighting fires can be just a small part of the role. They are called upon to provide community education and advice on fire safety, but, when they are called to an emergency, they could be dealing with any type of incident, from road, rail or air crashes, to floods, fires, chemical spills or rescuing people trapped in confined spaces. It's not a job that can be undertaken lightly but can provide a sense of real achievement and value. To find out more, watch the video below:
Can I join?
Anyone can be a retained firefighter, as long as they meet the entry criteria and are able to respond to the station within the required time. Whether you have a full-time job, are unemployed or are looking for a career that you can fit around child care needs, being a retained firefighter can complement many different lifestyles. Being a retained firefighter requires a range of personal skills such as understanding, reliability, flexibility and the ability to work within a team. You don't need any qualifications but there's a selection process that will mean you need to pass some physical and practical tests and a medical. Before you decide to apply you need to make sure that you:
Are literate and numerate.
How does it work?
For employers who are looking to find out more about what is involved with supporting retained firefighters in the work place and what benefit there is for their business, they can download our employers guide here.
Retained firefighters receive a retaining fee for the hours of cover they provide which is a minimum of 42 and a maximum of 120. They also receive additional payments including allowances for disturbance, turnout, attendance and an hourly rate for other none operational duties.
For example, the pay for a fully trained retained firefighter covering 80 hours per week is:
Stage 1 – visit the station
Meet the Manager at the Station on a drill night or contact the Retained Support Officer to discuss the role.
Stage 2 – application form
Complete the online application form.
Stage 3 – fitness/psychometric tests at Service Training Centre
You will be required to undertake practical tests which assess your level of fitness and strength. The point of entry fitness requirement is 42.3VO2 which is equivalent to Level 8.6 on the Multi-Stage Shuttle Run/Chester Treadmill test. There will be two written tests; working with numbers and understanding information based at our Training Centre in Chorley.
The two films below show demonstrations of the Multi-Stage Shuttle Run and the Chester Treadmill test.
Stage 4 – practical assessment day (PAD day)
Assessment day at our training centre in Chorley where you'll be tested on practical exercises based on the national firefighter selection tests and carry out the following exercises:
To find out more about the levels of physical fitness required to become a firefighter, download this booklet which has been created by the National Fire Chiefs Council.
Stage 5 - interview
An interview at the local fire station.
Stage 6 – final checks
You will need to have a medical and provide suitable references.
Full training is provided to make sure you are ready to respond to emergencies and are able to carry out fire safety activity such as home fire safety checks with confidence. You will attend an initial two weeks training course to learn the basic skills and experienced trainers will be able to provide you with support. Within your first year you will need to attend another two weeks course on Breathing Apparatus and occasional weekend attendance for specialist rescue training such as road traffic collisions.
All firefighters are required to maintain their fitness, practice and develop their skills throughout their careers and retained firefighters are no different and they are required to attend a weekly drill session at their station. Your salary starts from the moment you start training and the Service pays all associated costs such as travelling.