Lancashire's growing army of on-call firefighters

The fire service in Lancashire relies on more than two in five firefighters who are on-call and may have another day job.

On-call firefighters respond to emergencies and take part in other fire service activities on an ad-hoc basis, meaning they may have full-time jobs elsewhere.

The National Fire Chiefs Council said these firefighters give emergency cover to more than 90 per cent of the UK and described them as “a vital part of today’s fire and rescue service.”

Figures show that of 1,061 firefighters employed by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in 2019-20, 439 (41 per cent) were on call.

Almost 440 firefighters in Lancashire are on-call and may have another job

Across England, there are 35,291 firefighters and 12,498 (35 per cent) are on call.

On-call firefighters are paid the same hourly rate as whole-time staff for the hours that they work, with an annual salary for a fully-trained on-call firefighter averaging at £3,177.

The NFCC said each fire and rescue service in England decides how many whole-time and on-call staff it needs, based on a risk management plan.

A spokesman said: “On-call firefighters predominately serve less urban areas of the country to meet more rural risk profiles serving the immediate communities in which they live and work.

“This working model is very efficient and effective for local communities and individual fire and rescue services as it provides a highly motivated and well trained workforce in local areas able to respond more quickly to the rarer rural incidents than relying on a wholetime crew who may need to travel a greater distance from urban areas.

“On-call firefighters are a vital part of today’s fire and rescue service.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Fire and rescue services have the resources they need – they will receive around £2.3bn in 2020-21.

“There has been a downward trend in fires since 2009, with the number of incidents in England falling by more than a third in the past decade.

“On-call firefighters work tirelessly every day to protect our communities and, alongside their wholetime colleagues, have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to keep people safe.

“The National Fire Chiefs Council have launched campaigns to recruit additional firefighters and debunk the myths surrounding roles, but ultimately it is the responsibility of fire and rescue authorities to assign firefighters to the shifts patterns they deem necessary.”