Frequently asked questions
What is the Retained Duty System?
A firefighter on the Retained Duty System (RDS) provides an on-call service responding to fire and emergency calls using the same appliances and equipment as wholetime firefighters. The difference is that firefighters on the RDS are on-call in their homes or at work rather than at a fire station.
Can anyone be an On-Call Firefighter?
Yes, provided you are over 18 years of age, meet the entry criteria and meet the conditions of living/working in the right area. There is no upper age limit.
The Service are unable to consider those applicants whose current contract of employment with another employer may require them to be moved from their normal place of work, thus affecting their ability to fulfil their contractual availablity with CFRS:
- for periods of more than 2 weeks
- for periods of more than 4 weeks in any calendar year
- with less than 1 months notice being given
Are there any height limits?
There are no maximum or minimum height restrictions.
What hours would I be expected to work?
This depends on the needs of the station and what hours you can provide. It will also depend upon whether you are able to respond from work or home. Candidates may wish to offer evening, daytime or weekend cover. The minimum cover we would look for is 50 hours per week.
How often will I be called out?
This is very much dependant upon your station area but on average two to three times per week. In hot summers you may be very busy with grass fires. Alternatively, during prolonged wet periods, you may attend lots of flooding incidents. No two calls are ever the same.
Can I go shopping, visit people or go out while I am on call?
Yes, but you must make sure that you carry your pager and that you can still get to the station within five minutes. If you need to go further afield you may be able to arrange for an off duty member in your team to provide cover for you. Please remember that whilst on call you must be fit for duty.
How will I know when to respond to an incident?
On successful completion of your recruit training course you will be issued with a pager which will activate when you are required to attend an emergency call. You will then be required to get to your station promptly, but safely, within five minutes.
Do I need any qualifications?
No, but you will need to pass the selection tests which are detailed in the On-Call Firefighter's guide.
Do I need my employer's consent?
If you plan to attend emergency incidents while at work, you must have the permission of your employer before you make the commitment to the Service. If you will be responding outside of normal working hours then your employer needs to be made aware that you could, on occasions, be delayed due to operational commitments and therefore be late for work. They also need to be aware that you may be required to attend short training courses, some of which may be during weekdays and as well as evenings. We would encourage you to give them a copy of our Employer's guide for further information.
Can I pick which station I work at?
Due to the response times required (five minutes) you need to live or work in close proximity to one of our retained stations. Find out which stations we are currently recruiting for.
Can I socialise while I'm on-call?
Yes you can, as long as you stay within five minutes travelling time of the fire station and do not consume any alcohol.
What if I am caring for dependants?
If you are caring for dependants when you are on call, you must ensure that you have alternative arrangements in place for their care in case you need to attend an emergency.
Can I be a firefighter if I wear glasses/contact lenses?
The visual entry standards for firefighters are:
- Unaided visual acuity of 6/60 and read N48 at least 30cm with both eyes open.
- Have a corrected visual acuity of at least 6.9 and read N12 at 30cm with both eyes open. Please note, applicants can use glasses of an appropriate specification on the fire ground should they be needed to obtain this standard of vision.
- Have normal binocular visual field determined by confrontation techniques or formal testing methods.
If you wear contact lenses, you could still become an on-call firefighter. Click here for further information on this.