Being an on-call firefighter

On-call firefighters are fully trained firefighters who are called into service when they are needed.

A firefighter uses a hose reel at an incident

Being an on-call firefighter

On-call firefighters live or work within five to eight minutes of their allocated fire station. They are fully trained firefighters who are called into service when they are needed rather than staffing the fire stations on a full time basis.

Most on-call firefighters have other employment and take on the role as a second job; however you do not need to be in work to become an on-call firefighter.

The role of a firefighter is rewarding. They respond to fires, rescues and other emergencies, as well as working on prevention through education and fire safety messages.

Everyone at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service prides themselves on putting our community first. This includes:

  • carrying out home safety checks or visiting businesses to explain about fire safety
  • making people of all ages and from different backgrounds aware of fire prevention and road safety
  • attending open days and events

Download our on-call firefighter information pack (PDF, 3MB) for a lot more details about the role.

What are we looking for?

Here are some of qualities and attributes we look for in a firefighter:

  • trustworthy and reliable
  • able to understand and respect diversity and adopt a fair and ethical approach to others
  • open to change and actively seek to support it
  • an effective communicator, both verbally and in writing
  • willing to work scheduled shifts including nights, weekends and public holidays
  • able to understand, retain, apply and adapt relevant information in an organised, safe and systematic way
  • able to work effectively with others, both within the fire and rescue service and the community
  • able to maintain an active awareness of the environment to promote safe and effective working
  • committed to work and able to develop yourself and others
  • able to adopt a conscientious and proactive approach to work to achieve excellent standards
  • able to maintain a confident and resilient attitude in highly challenging situations

Meet Vij, an on-call firefighter with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service:

Fitness, tests and qualifications

To become a firefighter, you will need to pass fitness, practical and written tests.

Every firefighter is expected to maintain their fitness throughout their career, and will have their fitness assessed every year.

Written tests

All applicants will be required to take and pass the two online written assessments in English and Maths and these will be sat prior to being invited to the physical aptitude tests.

Fitness, aptitude and practical tests

  • 20 metre bleep test (you will be required to achieve level 8.8)
  • 1 x 35kg overhead press
  • 1 x 60kg single rope lateral pulldown
  • 28kg single rope lateral pulldown: 23 pulldowns in 60 seconds
  • ladder climb with leg lock
  • confined space crawl
  • equipment assembly
  • equipment carry

Watch examples of these tests on the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service YouTube channel:

20 metre bleep test:

1 x 35kg overhead press:

1 x 60kg single rope lateral pulldown:

28kg single rope lateral pulldown:

Ladder climb with leg lock:

Confined space crawl:

Equipment assembly:

Equipment carry:

Diversity, inclusion and culture

Anyone can apply to work for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

There are some basic requirements to meet if you would like to become a firefighter, but equality, diversity and inclusion are part of our culture.

We want Suffolk to be a great place to work, a place where all our staff enjoy coming to work, feel they can be themselves and their differences are accepted as being an important and valued part of a wider and inclusive team. 

Read more about our commitment to diversity, inclusion and culture.

Suffolk County Council staff networks

Suffolk County Council is proud to have a number of active staff networks supporting and promoting groups of staff, councillors and partners that share similar characteristics, life experiences, values and beliefs.

Networks influence the organisation to be more inclusive, through work on policy, service development, training, communications, events, culture and have a seat at Suffolk County Council's Strategic Equalities and Inclusion Board.

The staff networks are run by our staff, councillors, and other public sector partners:

  • Black and Asian network
  • Christian Fellowship
  • The disABILITY! network
  • Mental Health network
  • SCC LGBT+ staff network
  • Vegan Network
  • Women's staff network
  • Young Adults' network

Staff networks within Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service:

How to apply

Apply to be an on-call firefighter

The On Call Liaison & Recruitment Officer will receive your form and may contact you about the role.

Visit the Suffolk firefighters website for more information on the requirements and training involved.


You'll need some basic levels of fitness, enthusiasm, willingness to work in a team environment and a desire to support your local community.

You'll also need to answer yes to the following statements to continue with your application:

  • Are you 18 or older?
  • Do you work or live within 5 to 8 minutes of a fire station in Suffolk?
  • Do you hold a full UK driving licence?
  • Can you operate at heights?
  • Can you work in confined spaces?
  • Are you calm under pressure in distressing situations? E.g. road traffic collision.
  • Are you able to work as part of a team?
  • Are you able to develop your skills and work independently?
  • Do you have consent from your employer to be available when you're working?

Stations looking for on-call firefighters



Ipswich East




Ipswich Princes Street


Bury St Edmunds
















Get in touch

If you have any questions about being an on-call firefighter, you can contact:

Catherine Paddon
Community Fire Engagement Officer 
07732 603981 

Information for employers

Many of our on-call firefighters are in full time employment with local employers who are keen to support their community. They are just like any other employee, except that they may be on standby for some of their working hours.

On-call firefighters live or work within five to eight minutes of their allocated fire station and are fully trained firefighters who are called into service when they are needed rather than staffing the fire stations on a full time basis.

They are contracted to work certain hours based on their availability, during which, they keep a pager with them. It is up to the on-call firefighter to agree the hours they are available with their primary employer.

More detailed information can be found in our on-call firefighter employer guide (PDF, 2.3MB).