Looking for a new challenge this year? Become an on-call firefighter at your local station

Image of a pager which is activated when on-call firefighters are called to an incident.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is working with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) as part of a national campaign encouraging people to become on-call firefighters.

The "Need More" awareness week runs from 7 January 2019 and aims to highlight opportunities available in the fire service, while busting myths about what it takes to be a firefighter. The campaign is supported by a national website - www.oncallfire.uk - which encourages people to get in touch with their local fire service, in January or anytime throughout the year.

Alongside this national campaign, RBFRS has published a list of Have a Go events for 2019, where people can come to a local fire station and try out some of the physical and written entry tests that potential firefighters need to pass. The full list of events can be found below.

An on-call firefighter is someone who responds to a range of fire and rescue service jobs; these range from emergency calls, working at open days, carrying out work with their local communities and acting as an ambassador for the fire service.

On-call firefighters come from every walk of life, including homemakers, shopkeepers, builders, farmers, office workers and directors of companies, together with people who are not currently employed.

Full training is provided on an ongoing basis, therefore previous experience is not needed.

As part of the role, on-call (retained) firefighters receive an annual wage plus additional payments for attending drill nights, training and any incidents. On average, on-call firefighters provide between 40 and 120 hours cover per week to help serve their local community.

To be an on-call firefighter, you must:

  • Be able to reach your local on-call fire station from where you live or work within 6-8 minutes depending on the station. This is because you have to be able to get there within a few minutes of an emergency call.
  • Have patience, understanding, empathy and enthusiasm.
  • Understand and respect the diversity of your community.
  • Have support from your employer if providing cover from work.
  • Be over 18 years – but there is no upper age limit.
  • Have a good level of fitness – but support will be available to help you reach this level.
  • Be ready to take on a challenging but rewarding role.

RBFRS promotes equality, values diversity and welcomes anyone who fits the above criteria.

Steve Foye, Deputy Chief Fire Officer said: "On-call firefighters are an integral part of our Service and community. We are keen to encourage anyone with the right skills to find out about what they can offer us - and in return, what we can offer you."

Graham Saunders, Watch Manager at Hungerford (on-call) Fire Station said: “If you’re passionate about helping others in your community, you could make a good firefighter. Although it’s a challenging role, we provide a range of support to help you get to the level you need to be at. If you live or work within 6-8 minutes of an on-call fire station, I would encourage you to come along to one of our events to have a go.”

The website also gives advice to employers about how having on-call firefighters within their business can bring advantages. These include health and safety and medical response training, as well as developing situational awareness, leadership skills and the ability to work under pressure.

Here is a list of Have a Go events currently planned to be held in Berkshire in 2019. All events are run 10am-2pm unless specified otherwise.

  • 12 January 2019, Mortimer Fire Station.
  • 9 February 2019, Lambourn Fire Station.
  • 9 March 2019, Pangbourne Fire Station.
  • 6 April 2019, Hungerford Fire Station.
  • 18 May 2019, Maidenhead Fire Station.
  • 8 June 2019, Mortimer Fire Station.
  • 27 July 2019, Lambourn Fire Station.
  • 21 September 2019, Wargrave Fire Station.
  • 16 November 2019, Wargrave Fire Station.
  • 7 December 2019, Hungerford Fire Station.

To find out more about becoming a firefighter and to get in touch with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service on www.oncallfire.uk or www.rbfrs.co.uk/on-call