Retained Firefighters

Retained firefighters are men and women who do ordinary jobs, but are ready to go to a ‘shout’ the moment that a call comes. They may be part-time, but they are trained and capable people on the front line, saving lives and making headlines.

There is a shortage at the moment of people who will turn out and help in an emergency. This is particularly true in our small towns and rural areas because nowadays there are fewer people who live and work locally. You might be just the person to fill the gap.

Firefighters come in all shapes and sizes, although it’s a tough job and you need to be fit and healthy. We are particularly keen for more women to join.

If you are interested, please click on the plus buttons and read the information below:

Where Do You Work?

First of all, you need to live or work near to a retained fire station, because you have to be able to get there within the designated times of a call (see the times shown for each retained location on the right), change into your fire kit and be ready to leave on the fire appliance.

Click here to find out where your local retained fire station is located.

Secondly, because we can’t predict when you’ll be called out, you have to be flexible in your work. The chances are that you’ll be working for yourself or for a community-minded employer who can let you off from time to time.

Are You Fit For The Job?

To apply to join the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service you don’t need any paper qualifications. You must have good all-round fitness. You will be asked to take a straightforward physical test as part of the process, and just as important are qualities like common sense, commitment and enthusiasm. You will get the chance to work as part of a close-knit team, and with a range of modern equipment.

How Often Will You Be Needed?

FF in front of pump - source CCD folderOn average, you will be called out two or three times a week for a couple of hours. If you cannot be available all the time, that’s not a problem. You can be paid for being “on call” for only part of the day or week. There is a particular shortage of people who are available during midweek working hours, so you could have evenings or weekends free if you need to, and still do a valuable and worthwhile job. If you really can’t be on call – for example because of a holiday or a deadline at work – you can “sign off”.

What Do You Get Out Of It?

Apart from the excitement, the challenge and the satisfaction of a job well done, you learn to be more self-reliant and confident.  You will meet a lot of people in your local community and earn their confidence and respect.

You will also get training in the use of equipment, and in other more general skills like first aid. These will be useful to you in your main job, whatever that is. You will get paid a basic retainer, plus a fee for call outs and another fee for going into action. You get paid for drill nights and duties like equipment maintenance. There is also a long service bounty.

Join The Team

There is a special kind of bond among firefighters. It comes from working together as a team in conditions which can be hazardous. That helps bind you together as few other jobs could.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to join the team, contact your local fire station for further information, check out our vacancies page or if you have a specific recruitment enquiry: email a recruitment enquiry.

Call in at your local station where you can talk to the people already doing the job and find out what life as a firefighter is really like.


Download the FAQs for retained (part-time) firefighters [PDF]

  • Fire Incident CommanderTo provide operational firefighting, rescue and humanitarian services for the benefit of the general public in and around the area specifically covered by the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, in accordance with the Fire Services Act 2004
  • To carry out routine duties as an operational firefighter at fire stations of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • The description of this job cannot be definitive. There will be times when other duties require the Post Holder to perform functions commensurate with the post
  • The role reports to a Watch Commander and, when necessary the Crew Manager. Retained firefighters are jointly responsible for others, as necessary, at operational incidents
The Operational Firefighter must, as part of operational duties, endeavour to save lives, carry out humanitarian services as necessary and protect property; these duties can be summarised as:

  • Attending and dealing with incidents involving fire
  • Attending to incidents such as road traffic accidents, or similar, and to extricate victims or casualties and render the scene safe from further risk of fire
  • Instigate protective measures to safeguard members of the public from hazards resulting from dangerous buildings or structures, as required
  • Mitigate the effects of damage to property as a result of freak or exceptional climatic conditions, if safe to do so
  • Prevent the suffering to and effect the rescue of animals trapped by fire or other miscellaneous cause
  • Assist authorities at incidents involving on site hazardous substances or those in transportation and protect the public from the effects of those substances as part of routine service duties
  • Carry out responsibilities in connection with Fire Safety, as directed by Fire and Rescue Service Policy
  • Carry out responsibilities in connection with Community Safety, as directed by Fire and Rescue Service Policy; complete all relevant paperwork associated with an Operational Firefighter’s duties including maintenance of records
  • Maintain standards of dress and personal appearance as required by Brigade Policy, reflecting the proper image of a uniformed service.
  • Maintain a level of fitness in accordance with Brigade medical standards and Home Office Regulations covering Operational Firefighters.
  • Carry out inspections of property and report of risks under the Fire Services Act 2004
  • Check, test and maintain equipment carried on appliances and record results in Station Records
  • Inspect and test fire hydrants in accordance with Fire and Rescue Service policy
  • Host and guide members of the public visiting Fire Service premises
  • Carry out routine miscellaneous duties, as directed by a Supervisory Officer
Operational: commitment to the duty system applicable to the specific duties of the post holder; respond to a designated fire station during periods of agreed availability.

Health and safety: to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, compliance with health and safety requirements, by taking reasonable care for your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what you do or do not do; and to co-operate fully with health and safety initiatives, guidance and instructions.

Specialities: to undertake any special role or assignment as required as a member of a specialist or projects team.

Training: to attend such training courses or seminars as required to maintain the level of knowledge and skills required by the post.

Environmental: to conserve nature and ecological processes by promoting actions to reduce pollution and wasteful exploitation of resources and energy.

Discipline: to take part, as required, in any disciplinary procedures.


  • Firefighter during training in MaidenheadMust satisfy physical requirements of an Operational firefighter, as defined by the Home Office Regulations
  • Successful completion of the Recruit Fire and Rescue Service course.
  • Physically fit / articulate / good dexterity
  • Pass fire service medical / eyesite test
  • Good standard of education / average intelligence
  • Experience of working with people
  • Ability to control actions of others
  • Promote / maintain a desire to learn
  • Awareness of danger / react responsibly
  • Good communicator
  • Self motivated / ability to think for oneself
  • Live within an agreed distance of the relavant fire station


  • Ability to deal with the general public
  • GCSE educated
  • Practical trade with certificate
  • Medical / first-aid skills
  • Ability to learn, absorb and retain theoretical, technical and practical knowledge
  • Keen participant in sport / physical recreation
  • To provide transport or live within such distance to be able to mobilise an appliance within five minutes of being alerted

Interests / Disposition

The post would suit people who are committed to helping others within a disciplined public service.

A calm, enthusiastic and energetic but approachable manner is required. A strong character is essential in order to effectively handle the many demanding and dangerous tasks set for a firefighter. Able to work as a team, but be prepared to work on own initiative. The ability to operate unsupervised is therefore important.

First Phase

You will be fully trained as a firefighter and as such need to be able to commit to the training programme. If you join  Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, whatever your educational achievements, you and other new entrants will receive the same basic training. This will be carried out at our training centre in Whitley Wood, Reading, and at your local fire station, this will provide all the basic training required to start operational duties in the rank of firefighter.

You will be a responsible member of a closely knit and well organised team – where there is danger, teamwork really counts. Your life and the lives of others depend on it. It is not a job which can be undertaken lightly – but can provide a sense of real achievement and value. There is also plenty of scope for individual potential to be realised and a career to be developed.

Retained Course Dates

Course dates for the Retained Training Development Programme will be published here when they are available.

Fitness Training
Download the complete Fitness Training Advice document.

Find out more about the Chester Treadmill Test | Chester Treadmill Test programme

Other useful information

The table below shows salaries in the Fire Service with effect from 1st July 2016.

Trainee £2,224 £10.15 £3.90
Development £2,316 £10.58 £3.90
Competent £2,964 £13.53 £3.90
Crew Manager
Development £3,150 £14.38 £3.90
Competent £3,286 £15.00 £3.90
Watch Manager
Development £3,357 £15.33 £3.90
Competent A £3,450 £15.75 £3.90
Competent B £3,675 £16.78 £3.90

More senior posts attract varying rates of pay.

*The Full Annual Retainer
This is the full annual retainer for an employee providing full cover (which is defined of at least 120 hours per week – hpw) and is 10% of the annual basic pay of a wholetime employee in the same role.

**Rate Per Hour
This is the basic hourly rate of a wholetime employee in the same role.

***Disturbance Payment Per Occasion
This is the fixed disturbance payment made on each occasion that an employee is called out.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is an equal opportunities employer and complies with the requirements of legislation covering equal opportunities.

Applications to join the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service are welcomed from all men and women. If you are accepted for a position, you will be entitled to equal consideration in the matters of training, career development and promotion, whether you are a man or a woman, and whatever your racial or ethnic background, marital status or sexual orientation.

View the Equality Policy (PDF)

What are the entry requirements to be retained (part-time) firefighter?
The current criteria are that you must live or work within 6 – 8 minutes  from the retained fire station, please click here for individual station response times. In addition, you must be able to provide on-call cover that suits the needs of the station.

Where are the retained stations in Berkshire?
They are in Pangbourne, Hungerford, Lambourn, Crowthorne, Mortimer, Maidenhead and Wargrave.

Is the recruitment process the same as a wholetime firefighter?
Yes, the process is the same.

Can I transfer from being a retained (part-time) firefighter to wholetime?
Yes, but this will only be when Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) run a retained to wholetime transfer process. Normally we would only accept applications from competent retained firefighters.

I am colour blind, can I still apply?
Individuals with protanopia, deuteranopia, monochromatism and tritanopia/tritanomaly are normally deemed unfit for service as a firefighter. Individuals with protanomaly rarely meet the required standards while deuteronamalous individuals should be safe for firefighting. Whilst diagnosis of the defect is an important part of the assessment, subsequent confirmation of severity is essential to determine whether they are colour safe. Should you wish to discuss this further please contact the recruitment department by emailing

How fit do I need to be a firefighter?
You will be required to have a good level of all-round fitness.

Where can I get more information?
All the information should be available on our website, however, should you have any further queries please email

We are currently recruiting for:
  • Hungerford (6 minutes*)
  • Lambourn (8 minutes*)
  • Pangbourne (6 minutes*)
  • Wargrave (7 minutes*)
  • Mortimer (7 minutes*)
  • Crowthorne (6 minutes*)
  • Maidenhead (6 minutes*)

* designated response time