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

Become an on-call firefighter

Apply to become an on-call firefighter, responding to emergency calls within your local area from either your home or work base.

Last updated:
4 October 2018

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1 The on-call firefighter role

On-call firefighters respond to emergency calls within their local area from either their home or main employment. 

They will go through several training courses over a period of two years in order to become competent. These include a two-week initial training course, followed by courses on road traffic collisions (RTCs), hazmat (dangerous substance), fire safety and breathing apparatus (BA), as well as on-station learning for the completion of a development programme.

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

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2 Criteria for becoming an on-call firefighter

To become an on-call 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 offences 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 will need to 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 training at the fire station (at a pre-determined time during a specific evening for a drill night) 
  • willing to attend other training courses, including some weekend training, and development courses.

If you are still not sure that being an on-call firefighter is for you, why not visit your local fire station or follow us on Facebook or Twitter for details of our upcoming events.

Please note: Crawley and Horley fire stations do not have an on-call section.

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)
  • The remaining 50 hours are to be 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)
  • The remaining 45 hours are to be 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)
  • The remaining 44 hours are to be 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
  • 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
  • The remaining 20 hours are to be 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-7.00am Monday. On nominated rota day: 7.00am-8.00pm
  • The remaining 30 hours are to be provided flexibly to meet service needs
  • Retaining fee: 75%

4 How to apply

As part of our recruitment process, you will first meet with a station manager who will provide you with further information about the:

  • role of an on-call firefighter
  • commitment required
  • training
  • contract bands
  • frequency and type of emergency calls the station attends.

Following this, there are a further five stages consisting of:

  1. an application form
  2. an assessment day at Chichester fire station that includes:
    • a basic health check, including blood pressure check
    • a fitness assessment (shuttle run)
    • physical assessments (six role-related tests)
    • personal protective equipment (PPE) kit measuring
    • national firefighter selection tests (four multiple choice tests)
  3. references
  4. a medical at Horsham fire station
  5. an interview.

You will be given three attempts at the fitness, physical and national firefighter selection tests. If you are unsuccessful at passing any of these assessments by your third attempt, you can submit a new application six months after the date of your last assessment.

Alternatively, you might like to consider visiting your local fire station on their drill night to discuss the role with the crew.

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