Spotlight on on-call firefighters at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service

SYFRS On-call Job Title

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (SYFRS) is one of the many UK Fire Services that employs on-call firefighters. They are an integral to the service and work out of 7 stations in the area which employ on-call firefighters.

Each Fire Service run their on-call system slightly differently, but we spoke to some of our colleagues at SYFRS about their experiences of the role in their service and how they combine this with their everyday lives and jobs, and of course for any advice to future on-call firefighters no matter where you are in the UK. 

Firefighter Gemma Senior - Dog Trainer

                                                                                              FF Gemma Senior

I wanted to become an on-call firefighter to help people in my community in times of crisis. I enjoy my other career so being an on-call firefighter gave me the opportunity to do two jobs I love!

We receive the same critical safety training as wholetime firefighters but spread over times more convenient to us and our other careers. I can’t wait to get to fire calls, the station or training school. There is always something new to learn.

Firefighters work in a variety of risky environments so we can never do enough training.

 Last year I got the opportunity for a development weekend at the Fire Service College and did workshops in Urban Search and Rescue and Fire Investigation 

You might miss the odd social event with friends or family, so you need an understanding family which mine are. I don’t really mind sacrificing the odd event because the job itself is never dull and so important…and that kind of makes up for things that you might miss out on.

If there is something that I really don’t want to miss then I can use annual leave like in any other job.

If you have a good work ethic and a want for something more or worthwhile out of your working life, then see if you have an on-call fire station near you…. If not…maybe move house? I know I would have….!

 Firefighter Stuart Ogley - Funeral Director

Being an on-call firefighter is a role I take seriously. It makes me feel part of an important team of people who take great pride in their work.

Each day is different, and each call brings a different challenge. Becoming an on-call firefighter although it is rewarding however, keep in mind this is a second job so be prepared to work quite a lot of hours. Shifts are flexible to fit in with most employers.

Career progression in the fire service is varied and available to all. You can develop by gaining your HGV licence and being a blue light driver, to being an incident commander or even working at the Training Development Centre as a trainer. The right role is there for anyone who is willing to work hard and as a team.   

The best thing about being an on-call firefighter is working with the public, you are that person they rely on most on their worst days. One day you could be saving a life, the next talking fire safety to vulnerable members of the pubic. No two days are the same. That’s what’s makes this job so rewarding 

Do your research on what it means to be an on-call firefighter. It’s tough but rewarding. Don’t go into this profession half-heartedly, it is a big commitment on you and your family. You will, however, get out of it what you put in. To me, it’s the best job in the world. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            FF Stuart Ogley

Firefighter Andrew Moxton -  Insurance Consultant

                                                                                                                                                              FF Andrew Moxon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

I always wanted to be a firefighter from a young age. Poor eyesight prevented this, but I’ve since had laser eye surgery. A chance encounter with an on-call firefighter and I was down at my local station soon after, finding out more. 

There are lots of development opportunities and skills that are transferable. I’ve been trained to deliver casualty care to a standard much greater than usual first aid. I’m also about to get LGV training so I can drive the larger fire service vehicles when required. 

The application process involves several stages to check physical fitness, some personality traits and other maths and reasoning tests.

Training builds up gradually as you gain experience too. You’ll likely do around 8 hours a week of drill, e-learning and fitness, with key courses on top of this. I have to plan my week carefully to make sure I get all my work done, stay fit and get some family time. I try to do as much as I can once my children are in bed.

Don’t take the decision to join lightly. Make sure you talk it over with anyone who might be affected. Other than that, I’d highly recommend it. It comes with a great sense of purpose. 

Firefighter Helena Rooke - Healthcare Assistant

I wanted to become an on-call firefighter because I wanted to help people and I have a caring nature. I have always had an interest in becoming a firefighter, but I always believed that I wasn't going to be strong enough. However, when I saw recruitment open up, I set my mind to it. It was all that I wanted.  

You are regularly assessed and need to maintain competence within the role so my advice would be to never stop learning and to openly communicate so everyone can learn from shared experiences. Sometimes incidents themselves can be challenging and it is a real test of character and determination.  

The training is great. It can be arduous and challenging but it is also extremely interesting and inciteful. I enjoyed my time at training school immensely and look forward to refresher courses.

There are various different training courses to attend and different aspects of the job to get involved in. I have recently joined the Community Safety Partnership. Others at my station are going through the process of becoming drivers completing their HGV and Fire Service Emergency Fire Appliance Driver training and 2 more are going through the promotional process to Crew Manager.  

I am proud to be an on-call firefighter. I have so much love for the job. I think that after every incident where you know you have made a difference or have helped someone, there is a real sense of achievement.

FF Helena Rooke (1)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Firefighter Robert Green – Fitness Instructor

 FF Robert Green                            

I wanted to become an on-call fire fighter because I know about all the good you can do in the community and also the camaraderie of the workforce and that has always been important for me in the workplace.

To become an on-call fire fighter you have to get through the recruitment process which involves some problem solving with Maths and English. There are loads of areas and opportunities for development throughout the job. You can naturally progress up the ranks at your station by completing your gateways.

There are obviously a lot of challengers in the role of a firefighter. A big challenge is that you will face some very mentally challenging situations. Another challenge is in the early stages of becoming a competent firefighter you have loads of new information and new skills to learn and develop in a relatively short period of time. The best way to overcome this is to ask for the help and clarification whenever you need it.

If you are wanting to be an on-call firefighter you should brush up on your basic Maths and English and interview skills, then I would urge you to give it everything you can as you will get out what you put in and I promise you won’t regret it.

We hope you have been inspired by hearing some of the thoughts of colleagues from South Yorkshire, so if you want to fine out more about on-call opprtunities and how the on-call system works in your area you can get in touch with your local fire and rescue service at any time of the year by visiting the on-call fire website.