On call firefighter

Find out what an on call firefighter does, who can become one, and what to do before you apply.

What is an on call firefighter?

On call firefighters are a vital part of the service. They help provided an emergency fire and rescue service to their local communities, 24 hours a day.

The role of an on call firefighter is not a full-time role. 

They report to the community fire station to respond to an emergency callout, from their home or their primary place of work, during their agreed-on call hours.

On call firefighters agree on their on call hours. When an emergency call out comes through, they report to the community fire station to attend the incident.

The role of an on call firefighter

Operational activities

Attend all types of emergencies, such as:

  • fires
  • road traffic collisions
  • rescue of persons
  • floods
  • incidents involving hazardous materials
  • supporting partner agencies when required

Non-operational activities

Develop and maintain skills by attending drill nights, training courses, and exercises.

Community safety

We are trained to deal with fires, but educating people helps in the prevention of and tragedies caused by fire.

As an on call firefighter, you will:

  • deliver community safety programmes
  • educate the local community on fire safety
  • carry out home fire safety visits
  • identify potential risks within the home
  • delivering water safety and prevention of wildfire advice

Who can be an on call firefighter?

No previous experience is necessary, but you must be:

If employed, you must have the express permission of your employer to allow you to be released for on call firefighter duties. We can help you talk to your employer to explain the commitment required.

You require to live or work near to the Community Fire station. This is so you can respond within a specified time of an emergency call out. This is generally within 5-8 minutes of being alerted.

You can find out if you meet the response times for your local station easily. Use you preferred directions app, such as Google Maps, and set your location to your local station.

Level of commitment required

Being on call doesn’t stop you from going about your normal life. You will need to have flexibility in your work or home life. When there is an incident, during the hours you have committed to, you will need to make your way to the fire station to be part of the team in the emergency response.

On call firefighters are contracted to provide cover for weekdays, evenings, nights and weekends and are hugely important to the communities they serve.

They are required to live or work near to the community fire station they serve. This is so they can be ready to attend the station within a specified time of an emergency call out.

Many on call firefighters are in full or part-time employment, are self-employed, or are studying at college or university. They balance their on call firefighter duties with their work or personal commitments.

SFRS currently offer two contracts:

  1. 100% contract, where you commit to being available for at least 120 hours per week
  2. 75% contract, where you commit to being available for at least 90 hours per week

What is a duty system?

On call firefighters can fall under two duty systems. Retained Duty System or Volunteer Duty System. The roles are similar but the terms and conditions are slightly different.

Retained Duty System

On call firefighters carry a pager and respond to a range of emergency incidents, during their agreed “on call” hours. They also engage directly with members of the pubic to promote fire, road and water safety to help protect local communities.

Volunteer Duty System

Firefighters on the volunteer duty system operate on a “call out” basis and are predominantly based in some of the more remote villages and islands within Scotland.

Our volunteer duty system includes 9 Community Response Units (CRUs) who are trained to deal with heath and forestry fires and in some cases, road traffic collisions and community fire safety activities, such as Home Fire Safety Visits.

Before you apply

We recommend that you identify your local station. Find out whether it is a retained or volunteer station.

Your local station will fall under either one or the other. This will determine which role you are applying for.

You can also use our service delivery map to find your local stations.

How to apply

Interested in becoming an on call firefighter with SFRS? Apply now to register your interest in the role. 

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