Have you got what it takes?
Becoming an On-Call firefighter
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.
* Wholetime only stations
9. Gerrards Cross*
10. Great Holm
11. Great Missenden
13. High Wycombe
17. Princes Risborough
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.
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.
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
Our vision is to make Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes the safest areas in England in which to live, work and travel.
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.
You will obtain knowledge and learn new skills along the way such as first aid, road traffic collision procedure and fire safety.
There is an opportunity for you to learn other skills, such as driving a large goods vehicle.
As an On-Call firefighter you will receive remuneration at hourly rates when you attend training activities.
Your training to become a fully qualified competent Firefighter will take a period of time, with each step building on the last. The following provides an overview of what to expect.
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.
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.
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
So you're interested in applying. . . ?
7 steps 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!
Learn more about role related testing!
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 will be provided with a link to national site which allows you to register your interest in On-Call opportunities with other fire and rescue services.