Last updated:
2 December 2016

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.

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.

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2 Could you be 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. 

If you have a record of offence(s), this will not necessarily disqualify you as all applications are considered strictly on their merits. You can find out more on the Nacro website.

If you are able to provide cover during work hours (day or night) you will need to get the support and written approval from your employer for you to become a retained firefighter. In addition to providing the required cover, you must be:

  • prepared to spend a minimum of 2 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.

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 How does being a retained firefighter work?

The types of cover are banded into 6 different types:

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 on 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’ sessions for people who are interested in a career as a retained firefighter and would like to discover what the job actually involves.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you’re updated on where and when the next event will be held.

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