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Retained firefighters are a vital yet largely anonymous part of the fire service. Most of the public are unaware of their role in assisting the full-time teams called out to daily accidents and emergencies. Retained firefighters normally work in rural communities, on an on-call basis, answering pagers and only reporting to the station in case of an emergency.
Most retained firefighters are either self-employed or in another full time job, but sign up for a certain number of hours a week, where they can be called out to individual situations. In fact, in rural communities, a lot of fire stations are not manned 24/7, but are only operated when needed. There are around 18,000 retained firefighters working in the fire service, and their services cover around 60% of the UK.
The process of becoming a retained firefighter is similar to becoming a full time firefighter, with the same levels of physical and mental fitness required. On top of the usual aptitude tests, retained firefighters must be able to offer flexibility, and live or work under five minutes from the local fire station. There are a few hours of training a week and they are paid for the work undertaken on call outs, as well as an annual retaining fee.
Being a retained firefighter is a great way to gain fulfilment and an additional source of income, with opportunity to transfer to a full-time firefighter if desired.