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On-Call Firefighter Recruitment

Recruitment for 2024 is now open! 

We are excited to share that the recruitment for On-Call Firefighters at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is now open. 

We have changed the process this year, so please read all the information below and get in touch with the dedicated recruitment team if you have any queries, at

Below is detailed information on upcoming Engagement Sessions, the Application process, Testimonials from our On-Call staff, and much more - please keep scrolling down!

To sign up to receive our recruitment newsletter, containing all the latest vacancies, directly into your inbox, click here

on-call firefighters cohort
New Process for 2024

Thank you for your interest in becoming an On-Call Firefighter with Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.

You can apply to be an On-Call Firefighter at any time, using our new Registration Form (linked further down the page). 

For 2024 we are holding 2 On-Call Recruit courses, one in June 2024 and the other in November 2024, and the below process will be used for both these course dates. 

Register Your Interest & Engagement Sessions

The beginning of your journey with us is to complete our updated Registration Form and attend our virtual and in-person engagement sessions, details all below. 

The Recruitment Team will get in touch

Once you have completed the Registration Form, the recruitment team will be in touch to discuss the next steps. For candidates who are interested in one of our Spotlight Stations (explained below), you will be invited to complete the next steps of the process, however all candidates will be kept in touch with. 

Receive Recruitment Pack and Checking Availability

You will receive a On-Call recruitment pack from the recruitment team. This pack contains everything you need to apply and support you through the process. You may be invited to attend a recruitment evening and speak with the relevant Manager at the station, where you can have an informal chat about the role, ask any questions and also complete an Availability (124a) Form, this form can be found inside the recruitment pack. Further information on the Availability Form is below.

The pack also contains an Employers Consent Form and an Eyesight Standards Form. Further information is below.

Online Assessment

Also part of the next steps will be the timed online assessment. This is a simple mental agility test, there is no need to for any revision prior to this test. You will by given 15 minutes in which to answer 30 questions, if you have indicated on your application that you require reasonable adjustments these will be discussed with you prior to your test. 

Practical Selection Days

If you have made it to this stage in the process you will be invited to a Practical Selection Day (morning or afternoon session). Further information about the practical and physical tests is below, and we have also got some excellent fitness tips below! 


If successful on the Practical Selection Day, you will be invited to an interview. The interviews last around 30 minutes and will either be virtual or in-person (TBC).

Pre-Employment Checks

Follow a successful interview, you will receive a conditional offer of employment and we will begin Pre-Employment Checks. More information on the required checks is below. 


A key part of the Pre-Employment Checks is a full medical. The Occupational Health team will be in touch to book this in with you on set dates, detailed below. 

Start your On-Call Training Course!

Once you have completed the Pre-Employment Checks to a satisfactory standard and passed the medical, the Learning and Development team will be in touch to share details of the Training Course. Further information is below! 

The Process

Please see below for detailed information on the key stages of the On-Call recruitment process.  

An On-Call assessment day with two male firefighters talking to a candidate in front of a tall ladder

Registration Form - Open Now!

This year we are asking candidates to complete our online Registration Form, linked below. 

This form is open all year round and you can complete at any time. 


On the form, we ask candidates to identify which station they live/work 5 minutes away from, along with other key details. The information on this form is only accessed by the recruitment team, and we will be especially looking for candidates interested in our Spotlight Stations. If you have selected a Spotlight Station, we will be in touch with you directly to organise the next steps of the process.

If you have put down a station that isn’t currently a Spotlight Station, please don’t worry – we will still be in touch to invite you to some of our engagement sessions and a drill night at the station you are interested in. 

Reasonable Adjustments

We have ensured our Registration Form is as accessible as possible, but if you have any queries please get in touch with the recruitment team and we can work with you on alternative ways to complete this information. These will not be shared with any service members or managers without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this. 

On-Call Stations

Our current spotlight stations are identified in bold below, however we are always looking for enthusiastic candidates for all our stations so please still complete the Registration Form if you're interested in joining our service. 

  • Alston Fire Station

  • Ambleside Fire Station

  • Appleby Fire Station

  • Arnside Fire Station*

  • Aspatria Fire Station

  • Barrow Fire Station*

  • Bootle Fire Station

  • Brampton Fire Station*

  • Broughton Fire Station*

  • Cockermouth Fire Station*

  • Coniston Fire Station

  • Egremont Fire Station*

  • Frizington Fire Station

  • Grange Fire Station

  • Kendal Fire Station

  • Keswick Fire Station

  • Kirkby Lonsdale Fire Station*

  • Kirkby Stephen Fire Station

  • Lazonby Fire Station

  • Longtown Fire Station

  • Maryport Fire Station*

  • Millom Fire Station

  • Milnthorpe Fire Station

  • Patterdale Fire Station

  • Penrith Fire Station*

  • Seascale Fire Station

  • Sedbergh Fire Station

  • Shap Fire Station

  • Silloth Fire Station

  • Staveley Fire Station

  • Ulverston Fire Station

  • Walney Fire Station *

  • Whitehaven Fire Station*

  • Windermere Fire Station  

  • Wigton Fire Station

  • Workington Fire Station*

If you have any queries, please contact 


Engagement Sessions

On-Call Engagement Sessions have always been incredibly successful at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, and we want to continue to build on this and ensure our 2024 processes offer candidates even more opportunities to learn about the role, meet the service, chat with the On-Call Support team, and get a real taste of what it's like to be an On-Call Firefighter.


If you have registered your interest using the above link you will receive email updates containing details of engagement sessions and how to join. We also publish the links to the sessions on our social media pages, so make sure you are following! 

Reasonable Adjustments

We will do everything possible to make our engagement sessions as accessible as possible, but if you have any queries please get in touch with the recruitment team and we will work with you on any reasonable adjustments we can put in place. These will not be shared with any service members or managers without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this. 

On-Call Recruitment Pack

Once you have registered your interest and the recruitment team are ready to run their next recruitment process (we usually to run at least two intakes a year), the team will be in touch via email and you will receive your recruitment pack. 


This pack contains everything you need in order to apply and support you through the process. it is really important that you read the pack fully before completing any of the sections. In order to complete the availability (124a) form you will need to contact your On-Call Support Crew Manager as they will be able to tell you what hours your station is needing. They will also be happy to meet with you in person to help you complete the form if needed. All contact details can be found in the pack. 

There is also a section for your employer to read and sign.

You may also be invited to a visit to your local station to meet with relevant service managers and find out about the role. Where possible, this will be at the fire station you have registered for, but in some instances the it may be held at a centrally located station. 

Attendance to a recruitment evening will be by invite only. We strongly encourage all interested candidates to attend these evenings, as they will be the best way to learn about the role and see if your availability is suitable, but if you are unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances, we will do our best to see if a manager can meet with you at the station another night. 

At the recruitment evening you will get a taste for the job, be able to ask any questions, there will be a demonstration, and you will get the chance to have a direct discussion with the manager about your availability and suitability for the role. During the discussion with the manager you will complete an Availability Form (AKA a 124a Form), which identifies your availability. At this point, the manager will be able to let you know if you have suitable availability for the station or not. 

Availability Form

Most On-Call Stations have evening cover, so we are particularly looking for candidates who can provide daytime cover (Monday to Friday) and weekend cover. However the demand for availability is different to each and every station depending on crew numbers, so we are still looking to hear from all interested candidates. 

When discussing availability with the manager, they will explain the form and support you in completing it, and they will also have an honest discussion around whether your availability is suitable for the station. We have attached a blank Availability Form and an old example form for you to view, but please don't worry about completing this before meeting with the manager. 

Next steps

You will send your completed Availability Form to the recruitment team, indicating if your availability will be suitable for the station and if they would like to invite you to complete the next stages of the process. The recruitment team will securely save your Availability Form and contact you directly. 

Reasonable Adjustments

If you are concerned you might have any issues with attending a recruitment evening or completing the Availability Form, please get in touch with the recruitment team and we will work with you on any reasonable adjustments we can put in place. These will not be shared without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this.  

Eyesight Standards Form and Employers Consent

You will also be asked to complete an Eyesight Standards Form and Employer's Consent. Again these forms can be found inside your packs

The deadline for the Employer's Consent to be completed is usually prior to your Practical Selection Day .

The deadline for the Eyesight Standards Form is prior to your Medical assessment (this form MUST be sent to our OH team) - however if you require glasses, contact lenses or have any concerns regarding your colour vision it is advised that you get this form completed sooner in the process. Our Occupational Health team can then view this form and let you know if you have met the standards. This process can be very frustrating for people so we try to mitigate this as much as possible. 

Employer's Consent

On-call firefighters who are planning to respond to incidents while at their place of work must have permission from their employer. It is important that employers understand what this involves so please go to the dedicated section below for some of the benefits for Employers and FAQs. 

If you need any support discussing this with your employer, please get in touch with us and the On-Call Support team can support with this, including visiting your place of work to meet with your employer. 

Link: Blank Employer's Consent Form (word)

Eyesight Standards

If you have any doubts or queries regarding your eyesight, we suggest that you book an appointment with your optician and take the information below to ask their opinion:

Colour Blindness

Candidates who believe they have colour blindness may wish to be formally assessed prior to submitting an application form. The minimum standard accepted is the Farnsworth D-15 standard test. We also conduct functional tests as part of the medical process if candidates display difficulties with colour perception. Candidates must also pass the Ishihara test.

The vision standards for eyesight are:

Visual Acuity

  • Use of aids to vision should be possible at the recruit stage
  • Corrected visual acuity should be 6/9 binocularly, and a minimum of 6/12 in the worse eye
  • The minimum uncorrected vision for recruits should be 6/18 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worse eye for both full time and retained firefighters
  • The current 6/60 unaided limit should be retained for serving firefighters
  • An upper hypermetropic limit of +3.00
  • Testing for myopic corrections is no longer required
  • VA testing protocols must be better defined (e.g. for Snellen, distances, ambient lighting and use)
  • Vision must be binocular
  • Be able to read N12 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 25 and over)
  • Be able to read N6 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants under 25 years of age)

Visual Fields

  • Normal binocular field of vision is required.

Eye Disease

  • Have no history of night blindness or any ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in future failure of the visual standards for firefighters
  • Individuals with keratoconus are unlikely to be fit for firefighting duties
  • Compound astigmatism assess for capability, history of headaches and eyestrain

Refractive Surgery

  • Successful Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) and EpiLASIK treatments should be allowable if satisfy post operative visual tests
  • RK (radial Keratotomy) and astigmatic ketatotomy are NOT suitable due increased risk of rupture and fluctuation in vision
  • Intraocular Refractive Surgery – Used for high myopes therefore still risk of complications
  • Wavefront Guided Laser Refractive Surgery – since a Wavefront treatment aims to reduce aberrations, in theory it should produce better outcomes for night vision and vision in difficult low lighting levels or reduced contrast as might be encountered in a smoke-filled room; this technology could therefore have great relevance for firefighters – research is still underway to aid our understanding of this relatively new technology

Assessment after Refractive Surgery – an examination to consider the suitability of a refractive surgery patient for operational firefighting should include:

  • A slit lamp examination to confirm that the eye has returned to normal and that there is no significant loss of corneal transparency over the pupil area
  • Refraction, topographic examination and pachymetry to screen for keratectasia

Candidates should have their visual performance assessed using a technique sensitive to the presence of scattered light and aberrations.

Candidates should not be considered until at least 12 months post-surgery and when all medication has ceased.

Link: Blank Eyesight Standards Form (word)

Reasonable Adjustments

If you are concerned you might have any issues with completing either of the above tests/forms, please get in touch with the recruitment team and we will work with you on any reasonable adjustments we can put in place. These will not be shared without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this.  

Online Mental Agility Assessment

This year we have changed the way candidates can complete the Written Assessment element of the process, and moved it to a timed online assessment that candidates will be able to complete when you attend the Practical Selection days.  

The test is designed to measure your Mental Agility. It is not an intelligence or IQ test; but an indicator of an individual’s ability to absorb information, process it and then formulate an answer. It has the capability of measuring the following;

  • Attitude towards working to tight timescales,
  • Ability to problem solve,
  • Ability to learn new things,
  • Speed of adapting to new concepts,
  • Mentality towards working on complex problems and/or routine work.

We have shared some example questions in the word document below to give you an idea of them:

Online Mental Agility Test - example questions and answers (WORD)

Reasonable Adjustments

We have aimed to make the Online Assessment as accessible as possible, however if you are concerned you might have any issues with completing it, please get in touch with the recruitment team and we will work with you on any reasonable adjustments we can put in place. These will not be shared without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this.  

Practical Selection Days

Practical Selection Days 

The Practical Selection Days will be held over the course of a week, with sessions being held in the morning and afternoon. The days will be held at one of our wholetime stations which means there may be some travel involved - we always try to select stations that are accessible for the majority of candidates that progress to this stage. 

The timetable for the selection days will be shared directly with candidates invited to attend. 

What will I have to do at a Practical Selection Day?

We aim for our Practical Selection Days to be engaging, interesting, fun, and hard work. The days will be lead by our Recruitment and Fitness Coordinator, Annie, and you will get to meet staff from across our service who are supporting. You will complete a series of physical and practical tests, which are detailed below.


You will be asked to run at increasing speeds of 0.5km/hr over a 20 metres shuttle distance to the pace of a Bleep Test app. You will start off jogging at 8.5km/hr at level 1. The test will bleep to start and you must meet the bleep at each 20m shuttle. If you are at the 20m line before the bleep you must stop and wait for the bleep before you set off back, if you are at the line short of the bleep you will be informed verbally. Failure to meet the bleep on 3 consecutive occasions will result in you failing the test. 

To pass the Bleep Test you must achieve:

  • Level 8.8
  • Total distance (metres): 1560m
  • Total 20m Shuttles: 77
  • Total time: 9 minutes 6 seconds

Please note, the Bleep Test will be the first assessment carried out on the day. To pass the test you must achieve level 8.8. If you are unable to achieve level 8.8, your practical selection day will end and you won't be able to complete any further assessments, so if you're really passionate about becoming a Firefighter, this is a key test to practise for. 

(Tips on how to prep for the Bleep Test are included below, in our Fitness Top Tips section)

Hand Grip Test

You will be asked to perform the handgrip test, which will include your left and right hands. This is to assess your ability to carry equipment.

You will need to achieve:

  • 33kg in your non-dominant hand
  • 35kg in your dominant hand

If you do not meet these standards, unfortunately you won't be able to proceed further with the physical assessments. 

(Tips on how to prep for the Hand Grip Test are included below, in our Fitness Top Tips section)

If you are unsuccessful at either the Bleep Test or Hand Grip Test, you are welcome to observe the rest of the assessments. This will provide you with further understanding and knowledge of our recruitment process, and can give you insight on what you will need to train for if you would like to apply again next time.

Next steps if you pass the Bleep Test and Hand Grip Test:

You will progress to the following practical tests:

  • Ladder Climb - This aims to test your confidence with heights
  • Ladder Lift - This aims to test your upper and lower body strength, as well as your co-ordination
  • Enclosed Space - Working in enclosed spaces is sometimes required when working as a Firefighter. This test is designed to test your confidence, agility, and composure working in these conditions
  • Equipment Assembly - This test is designed to assess your manual dexterity and coordination 
  • Equipment Carry - This aims to test your functional strength, stamina and endurance. You will be required to carry various equipment over a 25m distance. 
  • 55kg Dummy Drag 

Before each test, the Assessor will demonstrate what is required and will also be clear about the scoring criteria for that test. 

All these tests are part of the National Firefighter Selection Tests (NSFT), which are governed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). 

Anything else to know?

The Resourcing team will be there on the day to answer any queries you might have, and you'll also get to meet members of the service and ask them any questions, such as: What is is like to be a Firefighter? What is it like to attend an incident? Is Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service good to work for? Where are the toilets? etc.

The day is part of the recruitment process but we want candidates to feel comfortable and bring their best selves. You won't be scored on any questions you ask on the day, but we do expect candidates to demonstrate our Code of Ethics and be professional. 

We've had some great candidate feedback on our previous Practical Selection Days and hope the 2024 days will be just as good.

For any queries, please contact 

Reasonable Adjustments

We have aimed to make the Practical Selection Days as accessible as possible, however if you are concerned you might have any issues, please get in touch with the recruitment team and we will work with you on any reasonable adjustments we can put in place. These will not be shared without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this.


If you pass your Practical Selection Days you will get booked in for your interview. 

Interviews may be held in-person or virtually

When virtual we use Microsoft Teams and can support candidates who are new to this platform. The panel will usually be made up of Station Managers, Watch Managers, the On-Call Support team, and the Recruitment team. 

How should I prepare for the interviews?

Make sure you read the On-Call Firefighter job description, linked below, and also visit our service Web pages to learn about who we are, our Code of Ethics, and any news stories about the work the On-Call crews have been doing. 

We are passionate about our service vision:

A community-focussed, professional, and trusted Fire and Rescue Service that makes Cumbria a safer place for all. 

Link: On-Call Firefighter Job Description 

Link: Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service web pages

Feedback after Interviews

Where possible, we will aim to provide candidates with individual feedback from the interviews, however this may be sent out at a later date due to other stages in the process needing to take place. We understand this wait can be frustrating, but we will communicate with candidates at the time about when to expect the feedback. 

Reasonable Adjustments

We have aimed to make the interviews as accessible as possible, however please get in touch with the recruitment team and we will work with you on any reasonable adjustments we can put in place. These will not be shared without your consent.

Please email if you have any queries about this.  

Pre-Employment Checks

Our Pre-employment check include:

  • Proof of Right to Work 
  • Medical Questionnaire
  • 2 References
  • Standard DBS Check
  •  Sizing for Uniform 
  • Collect your personal details to get you set up on the system


All of this information will be securely held with the Resourcing team and we will get going with your pre-employment checks and supporting you to get ready for the Basic Training Course. 

Pre-Employment Checks

The pre-employment checks are:

  • Proof of Right to Work - for information on what you'll need, please go to the gov website, linked here:
  • Two References: one from your current or most recent employer, and another that can be an employment or character reference
  • A Standard DBS Check - for information on our Safer Recruitment, go to our dedicated pages here: Safer Recruitment
  • New Starter Checklist - to make sure you're on the right tax code

Please note: a full offer of employment will not be made until we are in receipt of satisfactory pre-employment checks.

Medical Days

We require all candidates to take a full medical assessment prior to joining our service. These assessments will be conducted by our Occupational Health team at our Penrith Headquarters. 

The Medical dates are not flexible and we will not be able to offer any alternatives. 

The tests that will be completed on the day include:

  • A check of your blood pressure and pulse
  • A check of your blood pressure, height, and weight
  • A hearing test (audiometry)
  • A vision test (Please note if you have received laser eye surgery, this procedure must have been carried out a minimum of 12 months prior to your assessment)
  • A lung function test (spirometry)
  • A urine drug screen

The medical appointment may take up to two hours. 

If you have any queries about the tests above, please get in touch with our team and if appropriate, we can liaise with Occupational Health to help answer your query. 

On the day of your medical, the team will also do your BA Face Fit and your PPE fittings. 

On-Call Training and Development

Firefighters are highly skilled professionals, responding to fires, rescues and other emergencies. Whole-Time or On-Call you do the same job and are relied on to be a lifesaver.

If you are successful at the application and selection stage of the On-Call Firefighter process, you will find yourself put forward to attend an initial recruit’s course. The On-Call recruits’ course is 21 Days in length spread across an 8-week period. The course will consist of a mixture of weekend, weekday and evening commitments as outlined below. 

Firefighter development is carried out across three phases:

Phase 1 – Trainee Firefighter

  • Induction: 2 Days (midweek).
  • Modula 1: Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday(evening).
  • Modula 2: Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday(evening).
  • BA Initial: 10 Days, Monday-Friday (initial training including tactical ventilation, compartment fire behaviour training and wears in heat and smoke).
  • Modula 3: Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday(evening)
  • Pass-Out

Once Phase 1 is completed you will attend your On-Call Station at the next available Drill Night for a Station Induction and Welcome. You will be placed ‘On the Run’ as a Developing Firefighter (FFd).

Phase 2 – Developing Firefighter

Phase 2 Developing Firefighters will undergo development and assessment set centrally by the Learning and Development department. This will involve specific training and assessment including:

  • Safe Work at Height Training (2 Day Course)
  • Phase 2 BA Assessment (after 6 Months)
  • Phase 2 Pumps and Ladders Assessment (after 12 Months)
  • Phase 2 RTC/Hazmats Assessment (after 18 Months)
  • Phase 2 End Point Assessment (after 24 Months)

Developing Firefighter will attend weekly Drill Nights at their Station to undertake specific training requirements. 

Phase 3 – Competent Firefighter

Competent Firefighters maintain skills and continuous professional development through weekly station-based training, exercises and recertification courses (annual BA and Core Skills Assessments).

Each on-call firefighter must attend 94 hours of core training per annum (96 hours if less than 5 years continuous service) and 32 hours of self-development theoretical learning.

Key Information

For Candidates, Families, and Employers

Multiple images of candidates and fire service staff on one of the assessment days

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an On-Call Firefighter?

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service (CFRS) on-call firefighters come from all walks of life. Anyone who can give their time to the Service and wants to protect their local community is welcome to apply. They do need to be aged 18 years or over and live or work local or near to their local fire station. 

These people have everyday jobs and everyday lives, until their pager goes off - then they become professional firefighters! They bring a diverse set of knowledge and skills to the Service. For example, they include builders, farmers, stay-at-home parents, secretaries, engineers, cooks, factory workers, teachers, post persons, care workers as well being self employed.

CFRS on-call firefighters are not based at a fire station. They are ‘on-call’ and provide cover during the day, night and weekends. They receive the same training as their wholetime colleagues and there are opportunities to receive additional training during development days and on the wholetime stations to enhance their skills and knowledge.

CFRS on-call firefighters attend various emergency situations where problem solving skills, initiative and team work will be vital to resolving issues quickly and calmly. Incidents vary from tackling fires and rescuing people from burning buildings to dealing with chemical spillages, flooding, animal rescues and Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs).

What qualities do I need?

A sensitive approach is always required when dealing with members of the public, who may be distressed and confused. Today’s firefighter also works closely with the community to increase their level of awareness and to help prevent incidents from occurring in the first place.

Being able to communicate and engage effectively with schools, community groups, voluntary organisations and others is important, as is treating people with dignity and respect regardless of their background or culture. 

Being an on-call firefighter at CFRS offers an exciting and rewarding career, with many opportunities for development and progression.

CFRS values the diversity of their employees and aim to recruit a workforce that reflects the local communities they work in and welcome enquiries from all, no previous experience is necessary. The Service recognises that a workforce which represents a cross section of the people they serve is a positive step to ensure that all their messages are appropriate, clear and understood.

How often would I get called?

On average you could be called out two or three times a week for a couple of hours. Each station is different and some are busier than others. If you can't be available all of the time, it's not a problem. 

Who can be an On-Call Firefighter?

CFRS on-call firefighters need to be a minimum of 18 years old and have a good level of fitness, there is no upper age limit. They need to live or work near to their on-call fire station. They need to be able to stop whatever they are doing the moment their pager alerts them and go straight to the fire station.

Some on-call firefighters have an understanding employer that can release them from their workplace. Others work for themselves or simply have time available in between work and family commitments to help protect their community.

From the On-Call Firefighter Person Specification:

  • Good verbal and written communication skills. 
  • Understands and respects diversity and adopts a fair and ethical approach to others. 
  • High degree of practical / manual ability. 
  • Committed and able to develop self and others. 
  • A conscientious and proactive approach to work. 
  • Open to, and supportive of, change. 
  • Able to work at height and in confined spaces. 
  • Computer literacy.
  • Aware of the main elements of the firefighter role. 
  • Aware of the role of the Fire Service in the community.
  • Full UK driving licence. 
  • Desirable: LGV driving licence. 
  • Desirable: First Aid qualification.
  • Experience of working effectively with others. 
  • Experience of remaining calm under pressure and in highly challenging situations.
  • Experience of community safety work. 
  • Teamwork in a disciplined environment.
  • Able to satisfy the medical and fitness requirements to the role, including minimum standards of eyesight, colour vision and hearing.

On-Call Firefighter Pay

Firefighting is not like any other job! It can be unpredictable, exciting and rewarding.

It brings enormous job satisfaction and respect that comes with providing a crucial service to your local community. You will learn new skills along the way such as firefighting, road traffic collision procedures and fire safety, and there are other opportunities to learn other skills, such as Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver Training, First Aid and Trauma Care Training, Water Rescue, Animal Rescue, Wildfire, Working at Height and Health and Safety Training. 

An on-call firefighter is entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave per calendar year and on completion of the fifth year the entitlement is raised to five weeks.

As an on-call firefighter you will receive an annual retainer based on your hours of availability, plus an hourly rate when you attend incidents, drill nights, training courses, and community safety activities or carry out equipment maintenance, as well as paid holiday. Earnings will vary on the hours of coverage you can provide. The pay scales are explained below.

From the start of your employment you will be able to contribute to The Firefighter’s Pension Scheme, which CFRS will also contribute to. The contracts of availability range from 60 to 120 hours a week. On-call firefighters are required to attend an evening training session each week (known as a Drill Night). This is held at their local fire station for training and maintenance of the essential skills and equipment.

PAY SCALES from June 2023


Firefighter Trainee

  • Full Cover Retainer for providing 120 hours per week: £2,718 (per year)
  • Limited Cover Retainer for providing less than 120 hours per week: £2,038.50 (per year)
  • Hourly rate: £12.41
  • Disturbance: £4.77


Firefighter Development

  • Full Cover Retainer for providing 120 hours per week: £2,831 (per year)
  • Limited Cover Retainer for providing less than 120 hours per week: £2,132.25 (per year)
  • Hourly rate: £12.93
  • Disturbance: £4.77


Firefighter Competent

  • Full Cover Retainer for providing 120 hours per week: £3, 623 (per year)
  • Limited Cover Retainer for providing less than 120 hours per week: £2,717.25 (per year)
  • Hourly rate: £16.54
  • Disturbance: £4.77

Our On-Call Support Team

Our On-Call Support Team for 2024 is:

  • Andy Wills - On-Call Support Crew Manager 
  • Neil Aitken - On-Call Support Crew Manager 
  • Jonathan Hurst - On-Call Support Crew Manager 
  • Ade Kevern - On-Call Support Crew Manager
  • Shaun Yeats - On-Call Support Crew Manager
  • Graeme Marshall - On-Call Support Crew Manager

To speak to an On-Call Support Crew Manager, please email and we will put you in touch with them.

Information For Employers

On-call firefighters who are planning to respond to incidents while at their place of work must have permission from their employer. It is important that employers understand what this involves so please find some of the benefits outlined below. The On-call Support Team can visit your workplace to discuss some of the benefits outlined and answer any questions that they might have.

Being an on-call firefighter takes commitment and motivation. Staff who are able to fulfil their personal ambitions are usually happier and more productive in the workplace. This can lead to improved staff retention and reduced recruitment costs for your business or employer.

  • On-call firefighters receive a range of training and gain transferable skills that can benefit their business. They are:
  • Trained to deal with a whole range of situations
  • Trained in First Aid
  • Trained in health and safety and risk assessment
  • Trained in manual handling
  • Receive regular fitness tests, medicals and support for return to work following sickness 
  • Trained in leadership and management skills.

Key skills and attributes of a CFRS firefighter: 

  1. Skills – a firefighter learns many skills that can be useful in the workplace. Firefighters are trained to work well in a team, to think quickly, take responsibility, use their initiative, communicate fast and accurately, and to keep calm in a crisis. 
  2. Trauma training – all firefighters are trained to a high standard under guidance provided by Paramedic Instructors. They receive advanced first aid and trauma training.
  3. Manual Handling training – all firefighters are trained by a recognised instructor in the correct procedures to be adopted when lifting or moving items. The training involves learning simple techniques that could prevent injuries occurring, thus potentially reducing time lost at work through injury. 
  4. Health and Safety training – risk assessments and hazards are all part of the training for firefighters so they can support health and safety officers to meet their obligations and improve the safety of all your staff. 
  5. Motivated staff – staff that are able to fulfil their ambitions and potential and are usually happier and more productive in the workplace. On-call firefighters are committed to the community they serve, which means that they are more likely to be dedicated and long serving members of staff. 
  6. Training to deal with anything – firefighters must be able to deal with a whole range of situations – they never quite know what they might find when they respond to an emergency, so they are more likely to be able to cope with the ups and downs of life. 
  7. Enhancing the reputation of your business – we run regular articles about on-call firefighters and their supporting primary employers; this can help gain greater publicity for your business. Promoting your organisation as caring about its community and supportive of its staff can be very beneficial. 
Frequently Asked Questions for employers

If my employee gets called out, will I know how long they will be gone for? 

Each of the fire engines has a mobile phone and your employee is encouraged to use this facility to estimate a return time as soon as they can. For example, in the event of a false alarm call, they may be back within 20 minutes. 

My business works flexibly with staff occasionally working away at short notice. How would this work?

As their primary employer you would always get priority. We are always on hand to offer employers advice and support where we can. We recognise the importance of the support you lend your local crews and communities. 

What if my employee gets injured whilst at an incident? 

All firefighters are trained to a high standard and so injuries on incidents are rare. We have an Occupational Health Department and employees also have the option to use The Firefighter’s Charity rehabilitation centre to support their recovery. The Firefighter’s Charity is a national organisation which was formed to help out serving and retired members of the fire service. 

Commitment to the Employer

CFRS rely massively on the partnerships we build with local employers allowing their staff to be released during their normal working day. 
A business/company will always be the “primary employer” and as such have the priority over the working time of their member of staff. 

Being On-Call and Self Employed

Many of our existing on-call firefighters are self-employed and they have found that being an on-call firefighter has a positive impact on their business. This is because they have better links with local businesses and their communities and they are well known and trusted by the people in their area. We always welcome the qualities and skills you can bring to CFRS. Some of our self-employed firefighters have been with us for over 20 years. Their local businesses range from trades to IT consultancy, farming, electricians to builders and plumbers. 

Information for Loved Ones

Without the support and encouragement of their loved ones, on-call firefighters would struggle to carry out their role. This support does mean that occasionally the lives of partners and families can be affected.

The main challenges to being on-call are:

  • It is difficult to plan spur of the moment activities 
  • You can be called out in the middle of the night
  • On-call firefighters cannot be relied on to be the sole-carer when on-call. Alternative child or dependent care arrangements are needed to make sure you can respond to an emergency quickly.

However, having an on-call firefighter within the family does have its advantages too, such as:

  • Protecting the community in which you live
  • Being a positive role model within the community 
  • Increased confidence and development of new skills
  • Ability to carry out a risk assessment of your home 
  • Financial reward.


Press Release - On-Call Appreciation Events Launched 

Fitness Top Tips

How to prepare for the Practical Selection days and be fit to become a Firefighter!

Multiple images of candidates and fire service staff on one of the assessment days
Preparing for the Practical Selection Days

Firefighters undertake a range of roles across response, prevention and protection, all of which require a level of physical fitness.

Your fitness will be tested as part of the application process to become a firefighter. This section explains why it is important for firefighters to be fit, what physical activity the job involves and gives you advice on activities you can undertake to prepare for the recruitment process.

Why do firefighters need to be fit? 
Being a firefighter involves responding to emergency situations and working closely with the local community to prevent fires happening in the first instance. 

The work often involves responding to rapidly changing situations in different environments and weather conditions. This requires a range of skills including good communication, team-work and a level of physical fitness.

Examples of physical activities that can be regularly required by firefighters as part of their role include hose runs, climbing stairs of high-rise buildings, working in a team to lift ladders, using ropes to manoeuvre equipment up tall buildings and rescuing people and animals.

Improving fitness
Being a firefighter requires cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or buy equipment to improve in these areas. Many of the suggested exercises in this guide can be done at home or in your local park.

Warming up/cooling down

You should warm up before you undertake any physical activity. Warming up prepares your body, helping to improve performance and reducing the risk of injury by increasing blood flow through the body and reducing muscle stiffness.

Common warm up exercises include, walking/jogging, low intensity activities and stretching. Cooling down after you exercise is as important 
as warming up. Lowering the intensity of your exercise before you stop will gently lower your pulse and prepare your body for recovery.

You should also adapt your training plan every month or so to challenge yourself and make sure you continually improve.

Correct exercise technique is essential to improve your fitness and avoid injury. If you have any doubt about your ability to do any of the exercises, please seek advice from a qualified professional or ask for some help for from our fitness advisors.


Cardiovascular exercise is sustained or prolonged physical activity that raises your heartbeat. It includes most activities you would think of as ‘exercise’. 

  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Cycling
  • Running
  • Climbing
  • Team Sports
  • Group Exercise
  • Skipping


Strength training works your muscles as they move against resistance, developing your muscular strength and endurance. This will allow you to lift, lower, push and pull heavy objects and produce force during repetitive movements over longer periods of time. 

You can use your own body weight as resistance (e.g. press ups) and/or do exercises that use external loads (e.g. dead lift).

  • Squat
  • Shoulder Press
  • Step Ups
  • Press Up
  • Dead lift
  • Lunge
  • Rotation Twists
  • Bent Over Rows


Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain and balance problems. Stretching gets blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles so they can more easily achieve their full range of motion.

Exercise Recommendations

  •  Perform strength conditioning sessions that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) at least 2 days a week
  • Perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise a week
  • Spread exercise evenly over 4-5 days a week, or every day

Reference: American College of Sports Medicine

Warm up exercises (5-8 minutes)

Your warm up should include a pulse raiser and dynamic stretches.

  • Walk 1 minute 
  • Light jog 1 minute
  • High knees 30 seconds
  • Heel flicks 30 seconds
  • Side steps 30 seconds
  • Walking windmills 30 seconds
  • Walking Lunges 30 seconds
  • Hip Rotations 30 seconds.

Cool down exercise (5-8 minutes)

Your cool down should include exercises to lower your heart rate and developmental stretches to increase your flexibility. You shouldhold each stretch for 30 seconds, especially your hamstrings and hips flexors. 

  • Triceps stretch
  • Shoulder stretch
  • Hamstring stretch 
  • Calf stretch
  • Quadriceps Stretch
  • Hip Flexor Stretch

Creating a healthy eating pattern

Here is some advice on how to eat a healthy, balanced diet. It can help with your training and get the right type of fuel for energy. 

  1. Choose vegetables from different subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  2. Consume the whole fruit versus fruit juice
  3. Half or more of grains should come from whole grains
  4. A variety of proteins should be consumed including lean meats and poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, soy products and legumes
  5. Healthy fats and oils should be substituted for those containing saturated fat and/or trans fat
  6. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Being dehydrated efforts both your physical and mental performance
  7. Research shows that a healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium that can effect both your health, wellbeing and fitness. 

Reference: American College of Sports Medicine, 2017

Case Studies

Please see below some Case Studies of service members who are all passionate and dedicated to On-Call.