This page provides information about the recruitment process for on-call (retained) firefighters.
On-Call firefighters book themselves as available to respond to an incident. This means that you can combine working for the fire service with your career or personal circumstances.
On-Call Firefighters are trained professionals working to the same high standards as Full Time Firefighters and will train to attend the full range of incidents including fires, floods, road traffic collisions, chemical spills and more, where all crews work alongside each other.
Of course, you also get paid – as a rough guide when fully competent, you can expect to earn on average £8,000 per annum.
Firefighting involves much more than putting out fires. We play a crucial role in:
Educating drivers to prevent accidents and injuries;
Rescuing people from road traffic collisions;
Keeping our communities safe from fire and other dangers with Safe & Wellbeing Visits;
Supporting the Ambulance Service with medical emergencies;
Educating children in road and fire safety through school visits and community events;
Rescuing people from fast flowing water and protecting properties from flood damage;
Making people safer in their places of work by advising business owners on fire safety regulations;
Rescuing people from height and confined spaces;
Providing specialist animal rescue services;
And of course, responding to fires.
The wide range of incidents we respond to require highly trained, highly performing teams with a mix of skills, knowledge, personal qualities, backgrounds and experience. The communities we serve can be as diverse as the situations we tackle and knowing and understanding those communities is an essential part of the job.
We want to ensure that our workforce reflects both the community and the mix of skills and qualities required to do the job. We particularly welcome applications from women as they are under-represented in our operational service. We also welcome applications from people who are Black, Asian or minority ethnic as they are also under-represented in our workforce.
At this stage you will register your interest and your eligibility will be checked.
On-Call Firefighter Enquiry Form
If you are eligible to progress, an application form will be sent to you for completion.
These tests are designed to assess your level of fitness, strength and manual dexterity as well as your level of confidence in simulated exercises.
The written tests are as follows:
Examples can be seen here Firefighter ability tests: preparation and practice booklet
If successful at the practical assessment, you will be invited to interview. This will be a behavioural interview, meaning that the questions asked are focused on your past experiences. The interview panel will consist of two or three members of staff and you will be asked questions relating to your skills and personal attributes to determine your suitability for the role of a firefighter.
A fitness assessment will be carried out by the fitness adviser. Here you will be asked to take a gas analysis assessment. The VO2 max test will consist of a maximal exercise test on a treadmill. The procedure that will be adopted utilises a walking speed and increments in gradient. This is a proven cardio pulmonary assessment for measuring aerobic capacity.
The following links provides a video of the test – Chester Walk Test
At this stage you will be invited to attend our Occupational Health Centre for a medical and fitness assessment. The medical currently includes:
You will be asked questions about your health and any disabilities or medical needs you may have.
We receive many enquiries regarding current and/or past medical issues and cannot give definitive guidance regarding these issues as consultation between service doctors and GP's will decide if an applicant is suitable to carry out the role of a firefighter and it should be understood that all cases will be viewed individually.
In line with the Data Protection Act, we do not divulge any medical information to anyone outside of occupational health without your written consent.
Firefighter eyesight requirements
As we get older our eyesight deteriorates. Firefighters require a certain level of eyesight to enable them to carry out their role. With this natural deterioration it stands to reason that firefighters must meet the required standard of vision when applying to join the fire service.
You should provide two references on your application form, one personal and one business, the latter of which should be your current or most recent employer.
To complete the Disclosure and Barring Service checks, i.e. the criminal records check, you will be asked to complete a form which is then sent to the Disclouse and Barring Service. You will be sent the results which you will need to present to the Service at the earliest opportunity.
Following successful completion of all the stages, you will be issued a contract of employment and a start date for your initial training.
Why wait! Apply now to be an on-call firefighter: On-Call Firefighter Enquiry Form
Upon completion of your training course, your pay will increase to the development rate until you have completed your development phase and are deemed competent. You will then be paid at the appropriate competent rate of pay. The retaining fee is for staff offering full cover (120 hours). Part cover staff are paid 75% of the full cover retaining fee.
On-Call Firefighter Rates of Pay
Retaining Fee (£) (Annual)
Hourly Rate (£)
Disturbance Fee (£)
Turn Out Fee (£) - First Hour
Drill Night (£)
The retaining fee is divided into 12 monthly payments and paid by direct credit to your bank account or building society account. This is the fee for being ‘on-call’ whilst at home or at work in your primary employment.
The hourly rates above are paid when you are at work for us, either on a fire call, training course or a drill night, including your initial training. You can expect to earn £8,000 on average per year within Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service.
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