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On-call firefighter

On-call firefighters are members of the community who are paid to respond to emergencies. They do not staff the fire station 24 hours a day like full-time firefighters on the whole-time duty system.

They are notified of an emergency call via a personal pager, which they carry with them when they are on duty.

On-call firefighters will book themselves available for fire calls and, if a call comes in during the hours they are available, they must reach the fire station within the allocated time usually within 5 minutes of receiving the pager message.

Some of our on-call firefighters are in full-time employment with an agreement from their employers to leave to attend an emergency call.

On-call weekly training schedule

Applicants must be able to regularly attend the weekly training night of their local station.

Station  Weekly Training Night
Mon Tue Wed Thu
Alfreton   18.30 - 21.00    
Ashbourne   19.00 - 21.30    
Bakewell   18.30 - 21.00    
Belper 19.00 - 21.3018.30 - 21.00      
Bolsover       18.15 - 20.45
Bradwell     18.30 - 21.00  
Buxton 18.30 - 21.00      
Chapel-en-le-frith 18.30 - 21.00      
Clay Cross       18.30 - 21.00
Clowne     17.30 - 20.00  
Crich       18.30 - 21.00
Dronfield     18.30 - 21.00  
Duffield   18.30 - 21.00    
Glossop   19.00 - 21.30    
Hathersage   18.30 - 21.00    
Heanor   19.00 - 21.30    
Ilkeston   18.30 - 21.00    
Long Eaton   18.30 - 21.00    
Matlock   19.00 - 21.30    
Melbourne   19.00 - 21.30    
New Mils   18.45 - 21.15    
Ripley   18.30 - 21.00    
Shirebrook       18.15 - 20.45
Staveley     18.00 - 20.30  
Swadlincote   18.30 - 21.00    
Whaley Bridge   18.45 - 21.15    
Wirksworth 18.45 - 21.15      

Entry requirements

  • Minimum of 18 years of age on appointment
  • Able to attend the weekly training night on station on the allocated night each week
  • Provide on call availability as required by the relevant station
  • Be able to reach the station within the allocated time usually 5 minutes during your availability
  • If employed permission from your employer must be sought even if you are not responding to fire calls whilst at work
  • Have a good level of aerobic fitness and strength to enable you to undertake fire fighting duties
  • Able to pass medical and eyesight examinations to ensure you are fit to undertake firefighting duties
  • Able to swim 100m unaided


All remuneration is paid in accordance with the National Joint Council (NJC) Conditions of Service for Local Authorities Fire Brigades.

On-Call Firefighters receive a retaining fee reflective of the cover provided.

All work activity is paid at the basic hourly rate. When on-call firefighters respond to an emergency they receive a minimum of one hours pay where they form part of the crew that responds and a minimum of half an hours pay where they do not form part of that crew.

When called out on an emergency they will receive a fixed disturbance payment on each occasion in addition to the hourly pay rate.

Salary component information based on NJC 2020
Firefighter £ per annum £ per annum £ per hour £ per occasion
Trainee 2,383 1,192 10.88 4.18
Development 2,483 1,241 11.34 4.18
Competent 3,177 1,588 14.51 4.18

Selection process


To establish when you are available to provide cover, you will need to tell us your hours of availability. This will be verified alongside the requirements of the station and your ability to respond to the station within the required time.

Application Form

You will be required to complete an application form which includes your personal details and answer a number of Personal Qualities and Attribute (PQA) questions. You can download the Personal Qualities and Attributes guide available in our downloads section.

Written Tests

You will undertake two papers from the National Firefighter Ability Test - Working with Numbers and Understanding Information. You will also undertake a Dictation, Memory Retention and Recall Test.

The tests are taken under exam conditions and will last approximately three hours including a break. You can download the written test practice booklet available in our downloads section.

Job Related Tests

The tests will determine whether you have the required levels of aerobic fitness and strength to carry out the role of a firefighter. These tests are designed to simulate aspects of a firefighter's role. You will be required to wear fire kit. The tests are as follows:

Job related Tests
Test Description YouTube
Equipment Carry To test aerobic fitness, stamina, upper and lower body strength and co-ordination see video


This is a panel interview which will last no more than one hour. You will be asked several PQA and scenario based questions and we advise that you use the S.T.A.R. model to answer these questions. You can download the on-call firefighter interview practice booklet in our related documents.

Personal Qualities And Attributes (pdf 122.14 KB)

Firefighter Interview Practice Booklet (pdf 326.14 KB)

Firefighter Written Tests Practice Booklet (pdf 749.21 KB)

Medical and fitness

You will be required to undertake a medical assessment and asked to declare any health problems.

During the medical you will have the following checks:

General Medical

Listen to heart and lungs, examine abdomen and reflexes etc.

Blood Pressure

Raised blood pressure may require further investigation from your GP.

Breathing / Respiratory function

This will be assessed using a lung function machine which will identify a sufficient respiratory capacity to carry out firefighting. This is to ensure adequate oxygen intake is maintained to carry out duties requiring exertion over prolonged periods of time.

Drug and Alcohol Screening

Testing for alcohol will take the form of breath testing. Saliva samples will be taken to test for substances.


A good standard of hearing is required as firefighting is a safety critical role. Hearing is assessed using an audiometer in a sound proofed booth.

Height / Weight

This will help to assess general health and fitness.

Urine test

A sample of urine will be required to test for signs of Diabetes or other medical conditions.


The vision standards for becoming a firefighter are as follows: Advice should be sought from your Optician on whether you meet the standards below before submitting an application to become a firefighter.

  • Vision must be binocular. Monocularity will require additional assessment.
  • Distance = visual acuity of 6/9 with both eyes together, aided if necessary, with a minimum of 6/18 in the worse eye, aided if necessary.
  • Near vision = be able to read N6 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 25 years or under) or be able to read N12 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 26 and over).
  • Have a normal visual field in each eye, as determined by the Keystone machine.
  • Have no history of night blindness or any other ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in future failure of the visual standards for serving firefighters.
  • Have an appropriate level of colour perception. The Ishihara Test will be used to test for colour perception. Where the applicant fails the Ishihara test they will be required to undertake a Farnsworth D15. A vocational colour vision test will be required if the D15 is passed. If the D15 is failed, the applicant would be regarded as unsuitable for safety critical work.
  • Have not undergone refractive surgery in the previous 12 months. Individuals who have had Radial Keratotomy cannot be considered for operational firefighting duties due to the relatively high incidence of refractive instability. Individuals who have undergone the following types of refractive surgery can be considered 12 months after surgery:
    • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
    • Laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
    • Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)
  • Soft contact lenses can be worn.
  • Rigid (hard) lenses are not considered safe as debris can become trapped beneath these which can cause visual discomfort and disability.
  • Applicants may have to contribute to the costs of eyesight tests / examinations.


It is essential to have a good level of aerobic fitness. This will be assessed at the medical stage using a Walk on Incline Test undertaken on a treadmill. Guidance on the Walk on Incline Test can be found in the documents section.

Training schedule

The basic training of on-call firefighters takes place at the Joint Training Centre (JTC) in Ripley. All trainees must be able to attend all of the training course.

Modular Phase 1 Course

(click on image to see a larger version)


Modular Phase 1 Course

Intensive Phase 1 Course

(click on image to see a larger version)

Intensive Phase 1 Course

Pre employment checks

Disclosure Scotland Check

A satisfactory basic Disclosure Scotland check will be requested to ensure that you have not been convicted of a criminal offence which makes your employment in the role of a Firefighter unsuitable. This application is made in line with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Reference Checks

Two satisfactory references will be sought. One must be from your current or most recent employer.

On-call staff & trainees blog

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