Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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On-call firefighters: Frequently asked questions

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.

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. Options include evening, daytime and/or weekend cover. We’re flexible so it’s always worth asking what your options are.

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 fill out an application form and our On-Call Recruitment team will get in touch.

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