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Become a retained firefighter

Becoming a retained firefighter – a rewarding and satisfying challenge

Photos representing a retained firefighter role


Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service covers the county of Norfolk with 42 stations, 39 of which have a retained commitment.

A firefighter on the Retained Duty System (RDS) provides an on call part time service, responding to fire and emergency calls using the same appliances and equipment as Wholetime firefighters.  The difference is that retained firefighters are on call in their homes or work places rather than at a fire station.  This role offers flexible working hours and could suit people with childcare responsibilities.

To become a retained firefighter you have to live or work within five minutes travelling distance of the fire station during your hours of declared availability.  Retained firefighters can provide part cover (days, nights, weekends) or full cover (approx 24/7).

Being a retained firefighter is like having a part time job – you have to commit to certain hours and you get paid for it.

We are committed to recruiting and developing a workforce which better reflects the communities we service.  Applications are particularly welcome from women and people from a wide variety of ethnic, cultural, national back grounds and gender identities.


How to apply:

Where a vacancy exists:

To apply for one of our retained firefighter vacancies, please download and complete the Pre application checklist.  Once completed, if you are still interested in applying, download the following forms and complete and return them by e mail to  

Please ensure that when returning the forms they are sent as separate word documents attached to the email. 



If you’re thinking about joining our retained recruits and you want to find a bit more about whether it will suit you, your hours, your lifestyle, your fitness, your location or any other questions you may have then request a call back here and someone get back to you during office hours.  We aim to reply to you within 3 working days wherever possible.

Request a call back


Please be advised that confidential arrangements are in place for checking references for transgender applicants.  Please call Human Resources to discuss.


Where there is currently no vacancy:

Consider downloading and completing the pre application checklist.

To express an interest in the role of retained firefighter where there are currently no vacancies please download the following form, complete it and return it by e mail to



If you require the forms in a different format please let Human Resources know on or 01603 810351 (ext. 37683) / 0300 123 1669


When can I apply:

We would always like to hear from you if you’re interested in becoming a retained firefighter at one of our stations.  Click here to see where our current vacancies are

If we do not currently have any vacancies at your chosen station and you would still like to register your interest in future vacancies, please complete the Expression of Interest form and return it to  This form will be held on our database for 12 months.  If a vacancy at your chosen station arises within that time you will be contacted by HR and invited to complete a full application form.  If however no vacancies arise within this period of time your form will be destroyed.  You can still complete another Expression of Interest form.

Please note that we can only accept application forms where there is a vacancy at your chosen station. 

Full training is provided along with courses that can be transferred to your primary employment such as First Aid training and Fire Safety training. We also provide a full uniform and paid holiday. As well as receiving an annual ‘retaining fee’ for being on call you will also be paid for attending fire calls, drill nights and training events.

The role of a retained firefighter is rewarding, satisfying and at times challenging. There is a great deal of variety in what you’ll be asked to do, combined with the crucially important teamwork that the role brings. You’ll be part of a flexible workforce that responds to your community's needs 24/7.

To apply, you must

  • be 18 years of age by the time your training starts
  • ideally you should have Maths and English Level 2 or equivalent qualifications (GCSE Grade A* - C, O Level Grade A – C, CSE Grade 1, NVQ Level 2, GNVQ Intermediate, Key Skills Level 2, Functional Skills Level 2 etc).  
  • be fit enough to pass the physical selection tests and medical examination
  • live or work within five minutes travelling distance of your local retained fire station.  You may wish to check your proximity to one of our retained fire stations.


You can call into your local retained fire station on their drill night for more information however; you will still be required to download and complete the online application forms Parts 1 and 2 and the Operational Recruitment Monitoring form and return them by e mail to


Paper copies of the application form cannot be accepted at stations.


The information you provide on the application form will enable us to make an initial assessment of your suitability for the role based on your distance from the station, the cover you can provide (that is when you can respond to the Fire Station) and other important criteria that must be met before we can consider your application.  You will be contacted in writing regarding the outcome and if your initial application is suitable you will be invited to the Station for an interview.



The main purpose of the interview is to assess your general aptitude for the job and to gather examples of when and how you have used skills that are important for potential firefighters. There are four areas that will be assessed:-

  • Working with others – This is about working effectively with a variety of people whether they are in your team or in the community.
  • Problem Solving and Decision making – This is about gathering information to evaluate risks, opportunities and potential solutions to make decisions.
  • Taking Responsibility for Yourself and Others – This is about being motivated and being able to take responsibility for achieving individual/organisational objectives and personal development.
  • Confidence and Resilience – This is about staying calm, confident and in control during difficult or stressful situations.

If successful at the interview stage you will be invited to take part in the selection tests.  These include:


Physical Tests

You will be required to undertake a range of physical tests to assess your fitness, strength and confidence in relation to the Firefighter role. The tests simulate some of the situations you may face as a Firefighter and include:-

Each of these links will take you to a youtube video which will show you the exercises.


During the physical tests you will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).

During the Enclosed Space Test, you will also be wearing a BA facemask, which will be obscured, and a BA cylinder.

The physical tests can be physically demanding and we would advise you to consider your physical fitness at an early stage to give you the best chance of completing these successfully.  

If you’re unsure if your fitness levels are up to the level of a Firefighter do not despair! Get ready to join the team with our 9 week fitness programme


Written Tests

Working with Numbers - This test assesses your ability to understand and work with numerical information of the type you are likely to experience as a Firefighter. For example, you have to be able to complete basic numerical calculations to work out how much hose is needed at a fire and understand simple graphs, tables, dials and gauges. The test consists of a number of scenarios that present numerical information in a variety of formats. Each scenario is followed by a number of multiple choice questions. You must use the information given in the scenario to answer the questions that follow.

Situational Awareness and Problem Solving - This test is designed to look at your ability to ensure the safety of yourself and others and your ability to use information to solve problems. The test consists of a number of scenarios. For each scenario you are asked to choose which answer from four alternatives best describes what you would do in this situation.

Understanding Information - This test assesses your ability to read and understand written information of the type you are likely to experience as a Firefighter, for example fire safety information, training course materials, Service Orders and instructions etc. The test consists of a number of scenarios that present information in a variety of formats such as memos, newsletters and training manual excerpts followed by a set of multiple choice questions. You must use the information given in the scenario to select the correct answer.


The practice booklet for the written tests can be found here.


Fitness Assessment and Medical Examination.

The final stage of the selection process is the Medical and Fitness Assessment. Candidates are required to attend an appointment with our Occupational Health Advisers who will test your hearing, eyesight, BMI, blood pressure, lung function, urine and immunisation status and undertake a full clinical assessment. You will also undertake a fitness assessment with our Physical Fitness Adviser who will check your aerobic capacity, grip strength and leg and back strength.

The eyesight standards for recruitment are shown here.  The best way to check that your eyesight meets the criteria is to visit your local optometrist and explain that you are considering a career as a firefighter. Your eyes can then be checked that they meet the correct criteria. It is regrettable that you will not be eligible to join the service if you cannot meet the current criteria.


Stations with Vacancies:

  • Acle
  • Attleborough
  • Aylsham
  • Cromer
  • Dereham
  • East Harling
  • Fakenham
  • Gorleston
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Heacham
  • Hingham
  • Holt
  • Hunstanton
  • Kings Lynn North
  • Loddon
  • Massingham
  • Methwold
  • Mundesley
  • North Walsham
  • Outwell
  • Reepham
  • Sandringham
  • Stalham
  • Swaffham
  • Terrington
  • Wells
  • West Walton
  • Wroxham

This list is updated monthly.

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