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Fire and rescue services

Staff within the Fire and Rescue Authorities in England (and similarly across the UK) are either:

  • Operational staff (whole time and retained duty system firefighters) who spend most of their career as active operational staff in prevention and intervention roles.
  • Fire and Rescue Service staff in a variety of other roles (managerial, technical, administrative).

Operational staff can be either a:

  • Firefighter (employed full-time) or
  • Retained duty firefighter who are contracted to be available for agreed periods of time for fire-fighting purposes, but who could have alternative fulltime employment.

Generally applicants have experience in other uniformed services or as a part-time firefighter which can be advantageous, although this is not essential.

Promotion options would include crew manager, then watch manager and possibly on to station, group, area and brigade management. If you reach senior officer rank, you would be responsible for writing detailed reports of incidents and carrying out management and policy work.

The main types of fire and rescue service staff are:

  • Fire control operators
  • General service staff

Fire control operators are uniformed personnel who are employed to work in fire and rescue service control centres to answer emergency calls and deal with mobilising, communications and related activities. On a daily basis their work will entail liaising with police, ambulance, motoring organisations, lifeboat teams and other authorities.

In addition, operators will have to ensure that all statistical information is collated and processed from each incident attended and undertake other general administrative work. There is also an important public relations aspect to the job. Operators will be expected to attend exhibitions, county shows, Fire Station open days, careers conventions and receive visits from dignitaries, local groups and other members of the public. Vocational training and courses to advance career prospects and improve individual skills are encouraged. Through statutory examination boards and promotion interviews, operators have the opportunity to apply for promotion through the rank structure. There are posts as Group, Senior and Leading Fire Control Operators.

Additionally there general fire and rescue staff who are employed in a variety of other roles such as administration, stores, mechanics, IT and radio technicians, cooks, cleaners and driving staff. Promotion and related skills are numerous and varied given the wide variety of job opportunities in these roles.

Fire Safety Inspectors and other authorised enforcement officers (can include firefighters) also have statutory powers in order to carry out routine inspections, investigate fire safety related offences and prohibit or restrict the use of un-safe buildings.

Source: Skills for Justice LMI March 2010