Page last updated 13 February 2014

The role of a firefighter

What does a firefighter do?

The role of a firefighter is far more than just responding to fires and other emergencies. Providing education programmes and safety messages to local schools, businesses, community groups and residents is an essential part of the firefighters role in helping to prevent accidents and limiting the injury potential of those that do occur.

Following initial training, firefighters undertake continuous development training whilst on duty, at their fire station.

Wholetime Duty System (WDS) Firefighter

Firefighters currently work a 2-2-4 shift pattern. This involves 2 day shifts, 2 night shifts, followed by 4 days off (rota). There are also two stations (Daventry and Rushden) that operate a variable crewing system.

This requires firefighters to work 4 day shifts (week days only) with the option to provide night time cover (being paged to the station from home).

You will receive a highly competitive salary and benefits package, backed by excellent career development and promotion opportunities.

To become a front-line firefighter you need composure and understanding. You may need to react quickly in a crisis, or communicate vital information with clarity. 

Finally, you need to enjoy working as part of a team. Much of your job will involve working together, which means being considerate, resourceful, innovative and decisive. At times you may need to accept direction, on other occasions you’ll be asked for your views and input.

Retained (on-call) Duty System (RDS) Firefighter Information

RDS firefighters provide an efficient and effective service that gives emergency cover to more than 90% of the United Kingdom. They are paid volunteers who do the same job as full-time firefighters, however instead of being based in a fire station they are 'on-call' from work (employer's consent required) and/or home.

RDS firefighters can respond to a wide range of incidents at any time of the day or night. In return they are paid a retaining fee along with additional payments for every incident attended and training carried out. RDS firefighters are required to attend a training session one evening during the week for a 2-3 hour period. This is known as a drill night

To maintain a professional and competent service you will also be required to attend annual requalification courses in the core competencies of a firefighter. These courses would take place over a weekend. 

On average RDS firefighters will be called out two or three times per week, for a couple of hours. If you cannot be available all of the time it is not a problem. You can be paid for being 'on-call' for only part of the day or week. Naturally there will be times when you really can't be 'on-call' and in these instances you can book 'off-call'.

To be a RDS firefighter you need to be physically fit and live/work within five minutes travelling time of your fire station. 

Joining the RDS firefighters across the country will give you a rewarding and demanding job providing great job satisfaction whilst supporting your local community.

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