On-Call Firefighter (Retained)

In this section you can find out more about the role of an on-call firefighter and whether you, or your employee, could fulfill the role. 

Local emergency services form an important part of any community. They are there to protect and help us whenever they are needed, and can get help to us in a very short space of time. Can you help?

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If you are an employer, please also view the Information for Employers - Guide to On-Call Firefighters.

Watch our video clip of On-Call Firefighter Michelle Grenfell (that's Michelle in the picture above, alongside On-Call Firefighter Keith Boyd). In this short video, Michelle explains why she became an on-call firefighter, the rewards and the challenges.

  1. What is an on-call firefighter?
  2. Could I be an on-call firefighter?
  3. What would I get out of it?
  4. Where is my local community fire station and are they recruiting?
  5. How do I apply and what is the selection process?

View a series of other videos about the recruitment process

On-Call Firefighter Job Description

On-call (previously known as retained) firefighters are an invaluable part of today's fire and rescue service, heading to their community fire station only when needed in an emergency. 

They carry an alerter and let us know when they're available. They might be called to floods, fires, road traffic collisions or chemical spills and, just like full-time firefighters, are trained to deal with everything from extinguishing burning buildings to providing first aid.

On-call firefighters come from all walks of life and could be full-time parents, office staff, manual workers or any profession you can think of. But whilst on-call firefighters are ordinary women and men, they do an extraordinary job for the fire and rescue service and are integral to keeping their local fire station crewed and protecting the local community. They are trained and capable people in the front line, saving lives and making headlines.

Want to be a Firefighter?

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

First of all, you need to live or work somewhere near a community fire station, so that you can respond to emergencies very quickly; you need to be able to get there within four minutes of a call.  Locate your nearest Community Fire Station by visiting the 'Your Local Community Fire Station' page, which also lists which stations are currently recruiting.

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 either be working for yourself or for a community-minded employer who can let you off from time to time.

To apply to join the service you don't need any formal qualifications, as we undertake various tests to select the necessary skills and experience. However, you must be at least 17 and a half years' old to apply, as you need to be at least 18 years old to start the training.

Firefighters come from all sections of the community, although its a tough job and the role requires commitment, self-motivation and above all the desire to protect the community.

If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, try our quick assessment to help you decide if its the type of job for you:


Fees paid for On-Call Firefighters

Apart from the excitement, the challenge and the satisfaction of a job well done, you will learn to be more self-reliant and confident. After all, if you can cope in a real emergency, you are ready for anything else which life might throw at you.

As you will be helping your local community and making it safer, you will meet a lot of people and earn their confidence and respect.

You will receive continual personal and professional development, and access to formal qualifications - all for free and worth hundreds to thousands of pounds. You will get training in the use of equipment, and in other more general skills like first aid, which are useful in all aspects of life. 

If you have other employment, your skills and knowledge are very transferable and can significantly benefit both your employer and your career.

Added to all this, you get paid! You get paid a basic retainer, a fee for call outs and another for going into action. You also get paid for training and duties like equipment maintenance.

So in summary:

  • An exciting and rewarding career;
  • Confidence, resilience and respect;
  • Personal and professional development;
  • Access to formal training and qualifications; and
  • The opportunity to earn between £5,000 and £7,000 per year.

Drill Nights at Community Fire Stations

We have 31 community fire stations across the length and breadth of Cornwall, and are often recruiting for on-call firefighters. Find out if your local community fire station is currently recruiting and view incident statistics on call-outs.

If after reading the above you wish to become an on-call firefighter it is important that you first read our On-Call Firefighter Recruitment Pack. If you can meet the requirements, please download and complete our electronic On-Call Firefighter Application Form (Word) or our printable On-Call Firefighter Application Form (PDF) and return it using the contact details shown on this page.

If you require a recruitment pack or application form in a different format, please call us on 01872 323800 or email firecareers@cornwall.gov.uk.

Applicants are asked to go through a selection process to assess whether they have the potential to do the job. This will involve written and physical tests and an interview. 

Please view our page on the Firefighter Selection Process for all of the details.

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