Information on the fire service, including recruitment, safety advice and how to apply for the different courses we run.

Become a retained firefighter

Apply to become a retained firefighter, responding to emergency calls within your local area from either your home or work base.

Last updated:
16 July 2018

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1 The retained firefighter role

Retained firefighters respond to emergency calls within their local area from either their home or work base.

In West Sussex, 14 of the county's 25 fire stations are crewed entirely by retained firefighters.

Watch our video

2 Criteria for becoming a retained firefighter

To become a retained firefighter you must:

  • be aged 18 or over
  • live or work within close proximity of the fire station to which you are applying
  • declare any unspent convictions or criminal proceedings pending, as these may bar you from working as a firefighter. 

Having a record of offence(s) will not necessarily disqualify you. All applications are considered strictly on their merits. 

If you want to provide cover during work hours (day or night) you must get the support and written approval of your employer. In addition to providing the required cover, you must be:

  • prepared to spend a minimum of two hours each week (at a pre-determined time during a specific evening for a drill night) training at the fire station
  • willing to attend other training courses, including some weekend training, and development courses.

You are not eligible to apply if you:

  • have an application to be a firefighter currently under consideration
  • have previously applied within the last 3 months.

If you are still not sure that being a retained firefighter is for you, why not come along to one of our 'Have a go' sessions to find out more.

The selection process

The selection process is the same as for full-time firefighters, but may be conducted in a different order. See fireservice.co.uk for full details.

3 Types of cover

There are six different levels of cover you can apply for.

Availability Band A

  • On-call availability requirement: 120 hours
  • Core hour requirements: 40 hours Monday-Friday between 8.00am-6.00pm, 30 hours weekend (between 6.00pm Friday-8.00am Monday)
  • Composite hour requirements: 50 hours provided flexibly to meet service needs
  • Retaining fee: 100%

Availability Band B

  • On-call availability requirement: 100 hours
  • Core hour requirements: 25 hours Monday-Friday between 8.00am-6.00pm, 30 hours weekend (between 6.00pm Friday-8.00am Monday)
  • Composite hour requirements: 45 hours provided flexibly to meet service needs
  • Retaining fee: 75%

Availability Band C

  • On-call availability requirement: 80 hours
  • Core hour requirements: 36 hours weekend (between 6.00pm Friday-8.00am Monday)
  • Composite hour requirements: 44 hours provided flexibly to meet service needs
  • Retaining fee: 75%

Availability Band D

  • On-call availability requirement: 40 hours
  • Core hour requirements: 40 hours Monday-Friday between 8.00am-6.00pm
  • Composite hour requirements: None
  • Retaining fee: 75%

Note: Additional hours may be agreed under this contract.

Availability Band E

  • On-call availability requirement: 50 hours
  • Core hour requirements: 30 hours between 8.00am-6.00pm on days when available
  • Composite hour requirements: 20 hours provided flexibly to meet service needs
  • Retaining fee: 75%

Availability Band F

  • On-call availability requirement: 50 hours
  • Core hour requirements: 20 hours between 7.00am Saturday and 7.00am Monday. On nominated rota day 7.00am-8.00pm
  • Composite hour requirements: 30 hours provided flexibly to meet service needs
  • Retaining fee: 75%

4 How to apply

Our current priority vacancies are for 24 hours or full-day cover, but we would look at other options, for example, if your main job involves shift work.

5 'Have a go' days

We hold ‘Have a go’ days for people who are interested in a career as a retained firefighter that would like to discover what the job actually involves.

These events provide an opportunity to learn more about the physical and written tests, try a hose run or ladder climb and chat to some of our current retained firefighters about what the role entails. 

If you are interested you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you’re updated on where and when the next event will be held.

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