​​​Retained firefighters often have another job and rather than being based at a fire station, provide on-call cover from home or work. They respond to emergencies when their pager alerts them, so must live or work near the fire station.


Retained firefighters, like their full-time colleagues, are trained to deal with a wide range of situations and incidents. Fighting fires can be just a small part of the role. They are called upon to provide community education and advice on fire safety, but, when they are called to an emergency, they could be dealing with any type of incident, from road, rail or air crashes, to floods, fires, chemical spills or rescuing people trapped in confined spaces. It's not a job that can be undertaken lightly but can provide a sense of real achievement and value.  To find out more, watch the video below:




Can I join?

Anyone can be a retained firefighter, as long as they meet the entry criteria and are able to respond to the station within the required time. Whether you have a full-time job, are unemployed or are looking for a career that you can fit around child care needs, being a retained firefighter can complement many different lifestyles. Being a retained firefighter requires a range of personal skills such as understanding, reliability, flexibility and the ability to work within a team. You don't need any qualifications but there's a selection process that will mean you need to pass some physical and practical tests and a medical. Before you decide to apply you need to make sure that you:

  • Are aged over 18.
  • Have a good level of all-round fitness.
  • Live or work near the fire station you'd like to work.
  • Have standard of eyesight and hearing that is acceptable to carry out the firefighter role. This can be aided or unaided.
  • Have the enthusiasm, time and commitment to participate fully in this essential emergency service.
  • Are literate and numerate.



How does it work?

  • Retained firefighters agree to be available for a set number of hours per week. In return they are paid a salary.
  • They carry a pager and respond to emergencies from home or work when required.
  • Whilst on-call they can carry on with their day-to-day activities but they must have their pager with them at all times and be able to get to the fire station within five minutes, or in some instances, seven minutes. Of course, this means that they are not able to drink alcohol while on-call.
  • Retained firefighters receive full training and equipment.
  • Retained firefighters need support: those who want to respond from work must have their employer's consent and those who want to respond from home need to be aware that it may impact on home or family life.

For employers who are looking to find out more about what is involved with supporting retained firefighters in the work place and what benefit there is for their business, they can download our employers guide here.



​Retained Firefighters receive a retaining fee for the hours of cover they provide which is a minimum of 60 and a maximum of 120.  They also receive additional payments including allowances for disturbance, turnout, attendance and an hourly rate for other none operational duties

Retained firefighters can join the New Firefighters' Pension Scheme and are eligible for annual leave. An annual leave allowance would be based on the days of cover provided, for example five days cover would equal 20 days annual leave per annum. Other employee benefits, such as the career break scheme, cycle scheme and childcare vouchers are also open to RDS employees

Application process


Stage 1 – visit the station

Meet the manager of the station on a drill night to discuss the role, the hours of cover and response times. 

Drill night details and contacts


Stage 2 – application form

Complete the application form and medical declaration form, signed by the station or watch manager.

Application form​

Application form guidance​


Stage 3 – fitness/psychometric tests at Service Training Centre

Take part in a shuttle run/bleep test or treadmill test. [PLEASE NOTE: until we have amended our video on the bleep test, which shows a required 'pass' of level 9.6, the pass level has been amended to level 8.6. There will be two written tests; working with numbers and understanding information based at our Training Centre in Chorley. The document below explains the psychometric test in more detail.​

Pyschometric testing


Stage 4 – practical assessment day (PAD day)

Assessment day at our training centre in Chorley where you'll be tested on practical exercises based on the national firefighter selection tests and carry out the following exercises:

  • Extension of a 13.5m ladder
  • Ladder climb
  • Ladder lift
  • Equipment carry
  • Casualty evacuation
  • Confined space test



The film below demonstrates the bleep test.




To find out more about the levels of physical fitness required to become a firefighter, download this booklet which has been created by the Chief Fire Officers Association.

Stage 5 - interview

An interview at the local fire station. ​


Stage 6 – final checks

You will need to have a medical and provide suitable references. 


Training process

Full training is provided to make sure you are ready to respond to emergencies and are able to carry out fire safety activity such as home fire safety checks with confidence. You will attend an initial two weeks training course to learn the basic skills and experienced trainers will be able to provide you with support. Within your first year you will need to attend another two weeks course on Breathing Apparatus and occasional weekend attendance for specialist rescue training such as road traffic collisions .


All firefighters are required to practice and develop their skills throughout their careers and retained firefighters are no different and they are required to attend a weekly drill session at their station. Your salary starts from the moment you start training and the Service pays all associated costs such as travelling.


More information

For more information please contact Human Resources by emailing:  recruitment@lancsfirerescue.org.uk​ or call 01772 866812.