Seeking on-call firefighters

02/03/2021

“The combination of the two jobs really works for me … I learn lots of new skills, I’ve kept my fitness and met a load of new people from various different backgrounds”

Have you ever thought about becoming an on-call firefighter?   People living close to one of our local fire stations in Banbury, Hook Norton and Deddington are being encouraged to consider the role.

On-call firefighters participate in a wide range of activities from responding to emergency calls, to supporting safety needs. They also provide crucial prevention advice to help keep residents safe.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service offers a flexible work pattern to fit around individuals’ studies, work and family commitments.  

There are currently 390 on-call firefighters in Oxfordshire.    One of them is Ruth Price – an on-call fire fighter at Banbury Fire Station.   Ruth commits to being available for 69 hours a week with some of the time spent training at the station and some of it out on shouts.

Ruth said: “There are four watches at Banbury and we work alongside them when more than one fire engine goes out to a call.

“When you come up to the station you are always working alongside the wholetime who treat you as equals.”

Ruth told us why she became an on-call firefighter: “I did a teaching degree for primary school teaching.   I did that for ten years.   I found myself at a point where I wanted to try something different as an adult – start to relearn something and try a different career.  

“I quit full time teaching and trained up to be an on-call fire fighter. I’ve now gone back to supply teaching two days a week and then a few days of the week I am on call.

“The combination of the two jobs really works for me.  It means I learn lots of new skills – technical and practical in the fire service.   I’ve kept my fitness and met a load of new people from various different backgrounds.”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue say the attributes needed by on-call firefighters include a strong desire to support the local community, enthusiasm for working as part of a team, a reasonable level of fitness, and living or working within a close distance to the local fire station.

Ruth said: “You have to be close enough to the fire station to respond quickly if you need to.   Its all about being the sort of person that wants to support that community that they are living in. 

“We have a pager.   No matter what you are doing you need to be up at the fire station and dressed in your kit within 5 minutes of that buzzer going off. It can be a bit of an exciting start to a 2am call!”

Rob MacDougall, Chief Fire Officer, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “On-call firefighters are everyday people with normal jobs and hobbies. On top of this they are professional firefighters who make themselves available at certain times to respond to emergency calls either from their home, their work or their community.

“Working for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service means you become part of a close-knit team, earn extra money and receive full and ongoing training to develop a broad range of transferable work and life skills.

“We are an inclusive organisation and are striving to reflect the communities we serve. We welcome applications from everyone with the right attributes, but particularly we welcome applications from female, black and minority ethnic and LGBT+ communities who are underrepresented in our operational workforce.”

Anyone interested can visit www.oncallfire.uk – to find out what is involved in the role. Those wanting more information, or to apply to be an on-call firefighter, can email fire.recruitment@oxfordshire.gov.uk using the subject title “On-call week enquiry”.

Listen to our interview with Ruth Price here:


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