Have you got what it takes?

What is an On-Call firefighter?

60% of all UK fire engines are crewed by On-Call firefighters

There are over 14,000 On-Call firefighters in the UK

Providing emergency cover to over 90% of the UK

Our On-Call crew members are trained to deal with everything from extinguishing burning buildings to providing first aid.

Some On-Call firefighters also crew special appliances such as hydraulic platforms and water carriers. On-Call crews will be called upon to attend the full range of incidents including fires, floods, road traffic collisions, chemical spills and more, and work alongside their Wholetime colleagues at many incidents.

Most On-Call firefighters are based in rural areas and will crew a designated appliance at an On-Call fire station. However, some are based in urban areas on stations alongside Wholetime crews (Full-Time firefighters).

Our Fire Stations

There are 20 strategically placed stations across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. These include 10 stand-alone On-Call stations, eight combined Wholetime/On-Call stations and two Wholetime stations.

1. Amersham
2. Aylesbury
3. Beaconsfield
4. Bletchley
5. Brill
6. Broughton
7. Buckingham

*  Wholetime only stations

8. Chesham

9. Gerrards Cross*
10. Great Holm
11. Great Missenden
12. Haddenham
13. High Wycombe
14. Marlow

15. Newport Pagnell*

16. Olney
17. Princes Risborough
18. Stokenchurch
19. Waddesdon
20. Winslow

Providing availability

We use the terms “availability” and “cover” in place of “hours that you are available to us to work if required”.

There are various ways in which availability can be provided, and this will primarily be to your local fire station for an immediate response but could include providing agreed cover at an alternative location on a delayed response.

The amount of cover you offer us can be flexible and could be given during the day or night, whether you are working, at home or enjoying free time.

There will be a requirement for you to provide a guaranteed level of availability which will be discussed during your application process.

When providing availability for emergencies, an On-Call firefighter will be required to have the ability to be alerted (normally via a smart phone app) and remain within an agreed area for a rapid or delayed response. An On-Call firefighter will also need their primary employer’s consent to be released for emergencies.

How we respond to incidents

Our response model provides us with the capacity to respond to emergency incidents of varying types and durations.

This is achieved by having an established number of fire crews available to respond to emergency incidents, with the ability to increase the number when needed.

Additional “when needed” crews are available on “delayed turnout” of 20 minutes, 60 minutes or up to three hours, and can be called upon to respond to incidents, or provide cover arrangements.

This resilient approach ensures we maintain the number of front line appliances available where possible, while ensuring we have reserve resources for dealing with periods of high demand.

As an On-Call firefighter with Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, you will be providing a range of cover to suit both you and us. With this and a number of other opportunities to be had, the role of an On-Call firefighter within BFRS has never been so rewarding.

Response model with copyright


Let’s talk about what we will need from you


You will need to be committed to responding when you are needed.

For much of the time, an On-Call fire station does not have a crew in it.

As an On-Call firefighter you will be alerted (normally via a smart phone app). The app activates when you are needed and you have a maximum amount of time to report to the required fire station and, with your crew, mobilise the necessary appliance(s).

Our On-Call firefighters usually have other occupations, but when the call comes they drop whatever they are doing and become part of our team.

Depending on the type of cover given, as an On-Call firefighter you could respond from home and/or a place of work, day and/or night. Our On-Call firefighters can respond to their nearest fire station or to an alternative location for a delayed response to larger or prolonged incidents.

During periods of On-Call cover you receive a retaining fee. You will receive a disturbance fee and additional hourly rate payments when responding to an emergency.

You will need to be committed to train and gain the skills needed for the role.

On-Call firefighters are required to fulfil training for their role and must attend regular training activities, in addition to some weekend and other pre-planned sessions.

You will also have opportunities to carry out additional duties such as, shifts with Wholetime colleagues, community fire safety sessions, equipment maintenance and testing and general station routines. These duties are in addition to responding to emergencies:

  • Animal rescues
  • Road traffic collisions
  • Property fires
  • Industrial fires
  • Fires in the open
  • Water rescues
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Medical assistance
  • and many many more…

You will need to be committed to our vision and values.

Our values

Our vision is to make Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes the safest areas in England in which to live, work and travel.

Underpinning everything we do is a set of values to which we aspire in all our dealings whether they are with the public, partner agencies or our own staff.

We expect all our employees to work to these values which underpin our vision.

These values embrace:

  • Service to the community
  • People
  • Improvement
  • Diversity

If you are interested in finding out more about our vision and values you can read them in full here

Being part of our team is not like any other job

It can be unpredictable, exciting and rewarding.

Couple that with the satisfaction and respect that comes with providing a crucial service to the local community, and you are beginning to gain an understanding of what it means to be a part of our On-Call team.


Training to become an On-Call Firefighter:

On-Call Firefighters are trained in modules. Each module allows you to perform more and more of the role. Each of the modules and the time commitment required are below.

Safe to ride 

Time: Two evenings / One weekend

You will learn the basics in fire ground safety, using and storing our ladders, using and storing hoses and water delivery.

Successfully passing this allows you to attend emergency calls as a Trainee Firefighter.


Time: Evening / Weekend

You will learn about fire service hydraulics and how to operate fire service pumps in a range of scenarios and environments.


Time: Evening / Weekend

Trainees will learn how to work safely at height, how to operate height safety equipment and perform rescues from height safely.

Road traffic collision

Time: Evening / Weekend

You learn how to safely resolve these types of incidents and operate technical rescue equipment.

Breathing apparatus and compartmental fire behaviour

Time: Two week residential course

You will learn about fire behaviour, operating and wearing breathing apparatus, extinguishing fires and carrying out rescues from these types of incidents

Below is an example calendar which shows the days of commitment to complete training.

This is an ideal training period which shows availability for training centres and instructors to provide the module training.

Red days are module training days, or testing days.

eight month training calander with sporadic days filled ind


Time in development: Two years

With all initial training modules complete, you will be able to perform all the core firefighting tasks at an emergency.

At this stage you begin the two-year development period to become a competent Firefighter.

Within this period, you may also have the opportunity to attend further training modules such as:

  • Immediate emergency care
  • Tactical ventilation
  • Large goods vehicle driver
  • Emergency appliance driver
  • As well as and other specialist skills specific to your area of response.

Fully qualified competent firefighter

Your competency in role will be demonstrated through assignments, assessments and the completion of a firefighter development portfolio.

Further training in specific areas and skills will be acquired throughout your firefighting career and your competency maintained through continuous training.


On-Call payment system

Our On-Call firefighters receive a variety of payments for providing cover, training and responding to emergencies.

As well as the current fees outlined below, we are also looking at alternative remuneration packages for a more flexible working arrangement.

Retaining fee
A retaining fee is paid for the hours of cover that you provide as an On-Call firefighter and will vary depending on the amount of cover agreed.

Disturbance fee
This is a set amount that is paid each time you respond to an emergency as an On-Call firefighter.

Hourly rate
Once alerted, you will be paid at a set hourly rate for the duration of the emergency call. You will also be paid at this rate for any training or additional work that you do for the Service.

Role Hourly Rate Disturbance Fee
Trainee £10.46 £4.02 per call
 Development £10.90 £4.02 per call
Competent £13.94 £4.02 per call
Crew Commander
Development £14.82 £4.02 per call
Competent £15.46 £4.02 per call

As a newly recruited On-Call firefighter you will start on the trainee hourly rate of pay, and stay on it until you have completed all the acquisition training modules. You will then progress to the development hourly rate of pay until your portfolio is completed, usually after two years. At this point you will graduate to the competent hourly rate of pay.


Career development

Firefighters start their career by gaining the essential front-line experience and training needed to become a competent firefighter. Once competent, if you are seeking promotion, there are opportunities available to progress and develop. Hourly rates of pay increase on promotion.


Employee benefits

Discount travel

Save 34 per cent on your train travel and 50 per cent on bus journeys throughout Buckinghamshire with a travel choices card.


The Employee Assistant Programme offers 24/7, confidential support including counselling, guidance and referrals on any work, personal, financial, legal or family issues.


As one of our On-Call firefighters you will be eligible for membership to the 2015 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme. This is a Career Average (CARE) pension into which you will be automatically enrolled on appointment (unless you choose to opt out).

As a member of the Scheme you will pay a pension contribution which is a percentage of your pensionable pay and the employer will also pay pension contributions.

When you join the Scheme, a pension account will be opened for you and will remain open for as long as you are a contributing member of the scheme.

Your pension will then build up, year on year, and as an active member you can draw your pension at the normal pension age, age 60.

Case studies


I joined Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service in 2007 as an On-Call firefighter.

From a young age, I always had aspirations to join the fire service and so, at 19 years old, I saw this as an excellent opportunity for me to begin and develop my career.

While working as an On-Call firefighter, I also had a full-time job working, originally, as an electrical engineer before working my way up to become District Technical Manager for a global gas and electric company.

Not only did becoming an On-Call firefighter allow me to serve in my local community, I also felt a sense of escapism from my day to day job and the role allowed me to do something I have a real passion for.

Seven years into my career as an On-Call firefighter, I applied for promotion and successfully became a Crew Commander. I believe my knowledge and experience gained whilst working in the utilities industry helped develop my managerial skills and experience further. This promotion has allowed me to take on increased responsibility in the fire service and I now regularly ride in charge of a fire appliance and run incidents.

In 2017 I applied to become a full-time Flexi-Firefighter; a relatively new position created within Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service. This meant leaving my full-time ‘day job’ within the utilities industry. Whilst this was a big decision for me, having been working within the gas and electric industry for 10 years, it simply was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

Since then I have been working as a Flexi-Firefighter and haven’t looked back. This role has allowed me to meet lots of people and work at a variety of stations. I have also been lucky enough to have been trained as a swift water rescue technician; a specialist skill which could save many lives.

My focus now is to continue to improve upon the skills I have learnt and developed over the last decade and work towards promotion in this flexi role.


Being part of an On-Call fire crew elevates serving the community to an entirely new level. It is a challenging role which will suit people who can work under pressure.

I first joined the fire service in 2014 to give something back to the town which became home for me and my family. The role of an On-Call firefighter became a very important part of my life. Therefore, when a few years later I had an opportunity to take part in a full-time crewing pilot, I accepted it straight away.

Subsequently, I was offered a position as a Flexi-Firefighter which is now my full-time job alongside my On-Call duties. I work with wholetime crews every day, responding to emergencies and taking an active part in prevention activities across the whole of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

There are many opportunities for personal and career development available to On-Call firefighters. I completed a of number of courses designed to improve existing skills and gain new ones, which I find useful in everyday day life as well as on the job.

I would recommend becoming an On-Call firefighter whether you want to respond during your hours of availability or progress to the full-time operational position. The rewards of being a firefighter are invaluable. The public rely on your help and it is a great privilege to be in the position of the help provider.

Let's talk

The role of an on-call firefighter is extremely important. We take great care to ensure we recruit the right people to fill these positions. Step 1: Awareness evening. Step 2: Application form. Step 3: Interview. Step 4: Written and role related tests. Step 5: Occupational health medical. Step 6: Formal offer of employment. Step 7: Induction day.

The 7 steps to become an On-Call Firefighter explained:

  • Awareness evening: You will visit a local station and more about the role and responsibilities will be explained. Sign up for an awareness evening here
  • Application form: You will be given a link after the awareness session to on an online application form.
  • Interview: If your application is successful you will be invited to interview.
  • Written and role based tests: Written testing using SHL, and role based physical testing.
  • Occupational health medical: This assessment determines if you are medically fit to perform the role.
  • Formal offer of employment: If you pass all the above you may be offered employment.
  • Induction day: You will come to a station to start your On-Call journey!

Watch the video below to learn more about the role related tests:

Find out if your Post Code is within our catchment!

Use the form below to check your availability.

Use the availability search bar below to enter your post code and find the closest On-Call fire station to you. This should be the post code of the address from which you would be responding – ie workplace or home.

The results will tell you which of our stations is closest to you for your “immediate response” (enabling your appliance to be fully crewed and leaving the station within 10 minutes of you being alerted), and what the drive time in normal road speed conditions would be from the post code you entered.

Example timeline for immediate response:

Time of alert via phone app: 0 minutes
Drive to station at normal road speed: 7 minutes
Put on PPE (personal protective equipment): 2 minutes
Fire engine leaves station: 9 minutes

If your postcode indicates you will be able to meet one of our response times you might be just those seven steps away from joining us. . .

If the postcode you give does not sit within any of our designated response times, we are sorry, but it is unlikely that we would be able to offer you an On-Call role. However you can go to a national site which allows you to register your interest in On-Call opportunities with other fire and rescue services.

map with bulls-eye showing response times

Check your availability

Check your postcode to see your availability. Enter it into the search field and press enter.


Are you ready to join Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and make a difference in your community? Register for an awareness session, this is mandatory before the applicaiton phase.