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Female firefighter talking to the public about fire engine kit.
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Become an On-Call Firefighter

On-Call Firefighters come from every walk of life. We have landscape gardeners, directors of companies, full time parents and semi-retired people all at the ready to respond to emergencies in and around Buckinghamshire. When their smart phone app goes off, they become professional firefighters.

Along with responding to emergencies On-Call Firefighters play a big part of our community engagement work. They attend open days, carrying out work with their local communities and act as an ambassador for the fire service.

60 per cent of all UK fire engines are crewed by On-Call Firefighters. We rely on a strong, skilled, On-Call team. Be part of something more, become an On-Call Firefighter.

All the information you need before your application

If you are looking for a role which can fit around your lifestyle, a role in which you will learn new skills and become part of a community that tests your physical capabilities; becoming one of our On-Call firefighters could be for you! 

Career opportunities 

As well as training you to become a professional firefighter, joining our On-Call team will open the door to a host of other fire service opportunities.  

The experience and skills you gain will prepare you for becoming a Wholetime Firefighter if you are interested in that career path or open other opportunities within the Service to you, such as Co-responding and Bank Shift working, or upskilling to Crew Commander. 

On-Call firefighters come from all walks of life but the one thing they all have in common is the desire to give back to their community.  

Are you the right candidate 

To apply to become an On-Call firefighter you must be: 

  • At least 18-years-old by the start date (there is no upper age limit). 
  • A UK/EU citizen or a permanent resident of the UK without any work restrictions. 
  • In possession of a full UK or EU (European Union) manual driving licence. 
  • Willing to get an LGV driving license within 18 months of joining. 
  • Prepared to be clean shaven, so you can safely wear breathing apparatus while fighting fires. 
  • Free from any unspent criminal convictions.

You do not need any qualifications to become an On-Call firefighter. 

What else you will bring 

Other than good fitness levels, the diverse role of an On-Call firefighter means we are looking for people with the following skills and personal qualities: 

  • A can-do attitude. 
  • A keen interest in the fire and rescue service. 
  • A willingness to learn. 
  • Excellent communication skills, with the confidence to communicate with a range of people. 
  • Collaborative working in a team environment. 
  • Ability to achieve a good level of physical fitness. 
  • The ability to follow instructions. 
  • The ability to think about the bigger picture in a dynamic and challenging environment. 

As an On-Call firefighter you will receive a retainer fee, a disturbance fee of £4.77 and, if you are called to an incident, an hourly rate.

Retainer Fees

Full retainer 85% retainer 75% retainer 50% retainer

Trainee   Firefighter

£2,718 £2,310 £2,038 £1,359

Development Firefighter

£2,831 £2,406 £2,123 £1,415

Competent Firefighter

£3,623 £3,080 £2,717 £1,811

Hourly rate

Trainee Firefighter


Development Firefighter


Competent Firefighter


You will also get a monthly mobile phone allowance of £6.60. Your retainer fee will differ depending on which contract option you are on, and your firefighter competence level. 

 Other benefits include: 

  • Employee Assistance Programme. 
  • Pension. 
  • Cycle to work scheme. 
  • Onsite gyms. 
  • The opportunity to give back to your community. 

As an On-Call firefighter you could be called out two or three times a week, for a few hours at a time. The types of incidents you may be called to attend include traffic collisions, fires, and rescues from a variety of situations.  

The hours you will work will be based around your availability and other commitments. 

Offering available hours

You will need to commit to a guaranteed level of first-line availability. This means you will need to be contactable (normally through a phone app) and committed to remaining within an agreed area for an immediate response, during the time you have committed to. 

You can also commit to second, third, and fourth-line availability.  

The amount of cover you commit to provide, as an On-Call firefighter, is flexible and we will work with you to make sure your available hours work for both you and the Service. Contracts start from 40 hours of first-line availability a week, but we are happy to discuss reduced availability contracts for key stations at key times. 

There are six steps in our selection processes. The complete process can take around six months. Here is what you can except. 

  • Step one: Attend an On-Call awareness session. This session provides details on what the role involves, the skills we are looking for and the application process. You can also talk to our On-Call team and ask any questions you might have at one of our Have a Go sessions or community engagement events. Click here to visit our event page where you can book onto an awareness evening or Have A Go event.
  • Step two: Online application
  • Step Three: On-line tests. You will be sent a link to two online tests designed to assess your maths and English skills. These must be completed at home and will be verified later in the application process.
  • Step four: Role-related physical tests. You will be invited to take part in several physical tests. View our Firefighter fit guide here.
  • Step Five: Interview. If you pass the written and physical tests you will be invited to an interview.
  • Step Six: Occupational health medical. If your interview goes well, you will be invited for an occupational health medical to determine if you are medically fit to perform the role. 

Our On-Call response model

We need the right number of people with the right skills at the right place at the right time. Our On-call team help us to achieve this through our response model. Our response model provides us with the capacity to respond to emergency incidents of varying types and durations. 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.

We use the terms “availability” and “cover” in place of hours that a Firefighter is available to work for us if required.

Hear what it is like first hand to be On-Call

The different lines of availability

There are various ways in which you can provide us with availability. We might need On-Call firefighters to be immediately available to respond to emergencies. This will primarily be from their local fire station. We call this: First line availability


You will need to provide response from your nearest fire station, immediately, or within 10 minutes. You could also provide agreed cover at an alternative location on a delayed response. For example, to relieve a crew from long job.

To service this need we have three further lines of availability:

On-Call Firefighter holding a hose in front of fire engine

Second line availability
Provide response from your nearest fire station within 20 mins.


Third line availability
Provide response from any fire station (inc. work or home) within 60 mins.

On-Call Firefighters lined up for drill night

Fourth line availability
Provide a response to any fire station within three hours.

Check which stations you can respond from:

Enter your postcode to find out which fire stations you can respond from within the different lines of availability.

On-Call Map

Working for Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service

Our teams need to reflect the communities they serve, with equitable access to opportunity for everyone.


We are proud to be making Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes safer places to live, work and travel. There are not many jobs where you can say that!

With access to free on-site gym facilities, professional health advice and mental wellbeing champions, your health is high on the agenda.


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How to become Firefighter fit

Download our handy guide to help you prepare for our fitness tests.

What is the fitness test for Wholetime Firefighters?

As part of our Wholetime Firefighters fitness tests you will be required to complete the Bleep Test to a level 8.6, as well as the completion of 3 strength tests. These include Equipment Grip and Carry (testing aerobic endurance and grip), Ladder Haul-Aloft (testing upper body strength) and a Push-Pull test. If you are considering applying, it is advisable that you start working on your fitness and strength in advance. If you are successful at the early stages of the process, you will then be ready for the fitness test. It is also important that you maintain your fitness.

I have a disability – can I apply for a Support Staff role?

Yes you can. We welcome all applications. As part of the recruitment process, you will be asked if you have a disability, and asked to give details of the type of adjustments you may require in order to take part in the selection process and to fulfil the role you are applying for, should you be successful. Each case will be considered on an individual basis and, where reasonable adjustments can be made, your application will be progressed.

How do I apply to be a Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service On-Call Firefighter?

At stage two of the recruitment process you will be given a link to our online application form. This happens after you have attended one of our On-Call awareness evenings. You can sign up for an awareness evening here.

What stations are recruiting On-Call Firefighters?

You can find out which On-Call fire stations are recruiting by clicking here.

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