Become an on-call firefighter

Become an on-call firefighter

Thank you for your interest in working for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The Service is upgrading to a new eRecruitment system, temporarily making the on-call firefighter application form unavailable from 10 February, 2024, until we launch the new system on 4 March, 2024.

If you're interested in becoming an on-call firefighter, please come back to our website from midday on 4 March, 2024, onwards to access the new application form. 

If you would likto find out more about the role before applying, you can visit your local on-call fire station on their drill night. Details for each station are listed on the Our fire stations page of our website.

Most of our fire stations are crewed by on-call firefighters. On-call firefighters do the same emergency work as wholetime firefighters, but they can also have other jobs too. While on duty, they carry a pager, which activates when they need to attend an incident.


Carly's story

"The rush of it, the thrill of it, knowing that you're going to be able to go out and help somebody, feeling like you are making a difference, is probably what's most important to me."

Who we’re looking for

You don’t need to have any previous firefighting experience, just the passion to protect and help your community, and a good level of fitness.

We’ll ignite your spark of interest and train you to become a fully-fledged firefighter.

Eligibility criteria

You must:

  • live or work no more than five minutes from your nearest station
  • be at least 18 years old at the start of employment, but you can apply before then. There is no maximum age limit for applications
  • have the right to work in the UK
  • have good eyesight to carry out your role safely. If you’re unsure that you meet the visual standards, you can book an appointment with your optician, using this visual standards checklist. As part of the application process, you’ll do a LogMAR test which assesses visual performance in low contrast conditions
  • have a good level of strength and fitness. Find out more about the fitness requirements
  • be confident in water. You will be expected to complete a course in an open river as part of your firefighter development programme
  • have a good grasp of maths and English. If you cannot evidence having GCSE’s or equivalent in Maths and English at grade C/4 or above, we will require you to take two online tests as part of the application process.

Having a full UK driving licence is desirable, but not essential if you can meet the 5-minute response time on foot or by cycle. There will also be the requirement to attend training courses across the Service.

Having a criminal record will not necessarily prevent you from becoming a firefighter, it will depend on the type of conviction and when the offence took place. You are required to declare any convictions for offences that are not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This includes any offences dealt with by a court of law, HM Services disciplinary procedures and any driving offences.

Terms of work

Salary and working pattern

Call-outs vary across stations. Some stations respond to over 800 a year, others less than 50.

On average, on-call firefighters are paged two-three times a week for a couple of hours at a time, during the day, evenings and weekends.

Most of our on-call firefighters are now on ‘Pay for Availability’. Until this is rolled out across the whole Service, the way you are paid and your contracted hours will depend on the station you join.

Read more about on-call firefighter pay


The legal probation period is six months, but the time it takes to become a fully competent firefighter can vary from station to station and is also dependent on ability. Typically it can take up to two years to become a competent firefighter.

Annual leave

28 days per year, rising to 35 days after five years service at the start of the leave year.

Training and development

Following your induction, you will attend firefighting training either at Severn Park Fire and Rescue Training Centre in Avonmouth, Bristol, or at one of our fire stations within the Service. Training starts with an induction day approximately two weeks ahead of your initial course which includes core skills and road traffic collisions. After your skills course, you’ll be able to ride in appliances, shadowing the team only. You’ll then complete the following training courses:

  • Breathing Apparatus (BA) Week One (five days)
  • Breathing Apparatus Week Two (five days)

Once you have successfully completed these courses, you'll be debriefed by your local manager and move to the development phase. You'll be given your pager and able to respond to incidents in a limited capacity. Find out more about our training courses.

On-going training

You'll be expected to take part in regular training so that you can safely and efficiently carry out all your work and operate equipment, and you'll be paid for attendance at any training courses.

There are plenty of opportunities to progress in the Service. Many of our firefighters choose to serve the community throughout their time in the Service, which is great. But there are opportunities for promotion once you’re fully skilled, with different roles and ranks right up to Chief Fire Officer.


Drill ground test

The Service tests firefighters' fitness on a regular basis to ensure they remain physically fit to carry out their job. The drill ground test is one of the ways we can test fitness relevant to the role.

Personal characteristics


You must be at least 18 years old at the start of employment, but you can apply before you reach that age. There is no maximum age limit for applications.


There is no minimum height requirement to become a firefighter.

Beards and facial hair

There are some restrictions on facial hair. Firefighters must make sure their facial hair is maintained so that it doesn't get in the way of personal protective equipment (PPE).


Asthma does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a firefighter. Firefighters are exposed to smoke and other toxicants as part of their job, which are irritating to the lungs and upper respiratory tract and can exacerbate the symptoms of wheezing in firefighters with asthma. Your condition will be assessed at the medical stage, after which a decision will be made as to your suitability for the role.


We have a dedicated support group for people with dyslexia and will support you during your application process and throughout your time in the Service. Read about how we support people with dyslexia.

Tattoos and body piercings

Tattoos are acceptable provided they could not be deemed offensive. Bear in mind that what is and is not offensive can be subjective. During the selection process and if you are subsequently employed by us, you will be asked to ensure the tattoo is covered if it is deemed offensive or gives an image contrary to the Service values. Tattoos are unacceptable if they are rude, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic or violent.

Piercings will not affect your suitability for the role, as long as you are prepared to remove them before commencing operational duty for health and safety reasons. The use of tongue studs is prohibited due to their potential to break, become dislodged and become a catch hazard in the windpipe or gullet.


Although being a firefighter requires a good standard of fitness and practical ability, we’ll consider everyone on an individual basis and support you to reach your full potential.

    At the application stage, we will ask you to disclose if you have a disability and outline any special requirements you would like to request during the process. Reasonable adjustments will be considered.

    The Service is unable to assess your individual health until the medical stage and therefore would not be in a position to confirm your suitability until this point.

    We are a Disability Confident Employer. We are fully committed to:

    • ensuring our recruitment process is inclusive, fair and accessible
    • communicating and promoting our vacancies
    • anticipating and providing reasonable adjustments, as required.

    Read about how we support people with disabilities.

    Benefits of on-call firefighters to businesses

    You might be surprised to know that on-call firefighters make up 90% of emergency cover in the UK. They’re an invaluable part of society.

    Whether you're an employer looking for more information on how it all works, or you're an employee who needs help explaining the benefits to your workplace, we're here to help.

    Read about how on-call firefighters benefit businesses

    Have any questions?

    Get in touch - we'd be happy to have a chat and answer any questions you have.

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