Ordinary People Can Do
Retained Duty System (RDS) Firefighters are ordinary people that combine their day jobs with being on call for Fire and Rescue situations and emergencies. When the call comes in, they drop what they are doing and become part of the East Sussex Fire & Rescue team. It's a huge commitment, but an immensely rewarding way to serve the community, keep the public safe and earn an extra income.
Find out more at our open day/evenings:
31 March in Barcombe (day) - book now.
18 April in Rye (evening) - book now.
The Retained Duty System is one of three Duty Systems (alongside Shift and Day Crewed) that combine to provide operational fire cover across the County of East Sussex.
All Firefighters in East Sussex are trained to respond to the same incidents and RDS Firefighters are not a secondary or backup service.
They are an integral part of the County’s fire cover and enable us to crew more fire appliances in some of the more rural and remote areas of the County, in the most cost effective way.
Over 90% of RDS Firefighters in East Sussex do their Firefighting work alongside their day job. For example, we have
- office workers,
- self employed people and
- those at home during school hours.
RDS Firefighters are paid an annual Retaining Fee of up to £2,993+, plus an hourly rate of up to £13.67 for any work undertaken for the Service, including responding to incidents and training.
Your annual earnings will depend largely on how much cover you can offer and how often you get called out, the average earned by RDS Firefighters in East Sussex is between £5,000 and £7,000*.
+correct at 9 January 2018. *gross average, ESFRS, 2016.
Please pop down to your local station on drill night (see below) to find out more about the role of the RDS firefighter and to discuss the cover required with the Watch Manager.
The first question we will ask is, "Where do you live and/or work?"
The reason for this is that RDS Firefighters carry alerters when on duty and need to be at the Fire Station and ready to turn out within 5 minutes of the alerter sounding, travelling at normal road speeds, typically from home or their place of work.
Applicants are required to complete a short, straightforward application form, which gives us information on your contact details, the cover you are able to offer and the distance you are from your local Fire Station. Initially, candidates are considered on the cover they offer and distance elements alone. You will be required to commit to a minimum of 40 hours per week, which can be averaged out over a number of weeks. Please note you will need to be available on the station drill night (see below) as there is a requirement to attend a minimum of 40 drill nights per year.
Please click here to download an application form. If you work a shift pattern in your prime employment, please complete one availability sheet for each week of your shift pattern. Additional availability sheets can be found here.
These tests are related to the actual tasks a Firefighter will face and are designed to test fitness and the ability to understand and apply information.
Whilst attached to a safety line, you'll climb a 12 metre ladder and carry out a selected task within a time limit. This test will assess your confidence and co-ordination whilst working at heights.
A simulated rescue of a casualty from an open space, this test involves upper and lower body strength and stamina.
You'll be asked to lift the weight of a ladder to a defined height within a time limit to simulate housing a ladder back on an appliance. This will test upper and lower body strength.
You'll negotiate your way through a measured crawl-way wearing a Breathing Apparatus facemask within a set time. Your vision will be obscured and you will be asked to identify a number of objects during this test.
This aims to test your ability to comprehend and follow instructions. You'll be asked to assemble and disassemble a piece of equipment following a series of diagrams within a set timeframe.
A variety of equipment will need to be carried to a set point within a defined timeframe, between shuttle runs. This will test your aerobic fitness, muscular strength and stamina.
Please click here to download the preparatory fitness document to help you to prepare for the physical tests.
A full medical examination by the Service Occupational Health Department is required.
The purpose of the medical is to assess your general level of health and to ensure you are fit to take on the role of a Firefighter.
A medical report from your GP will be applied for, for which your consent will be required. Any conditions you may have are assessed on an individual basis.
There are no ‘blanket bans’ on conditions such as Asthma and Diabetes and we do not ask for 20:20 vision.
All conditions are assessed in line with the requirements of the job.
More information about the role of a retained firefighter and the application process is available in this information booklet, which you should read in full.
You will be contracted to be on call during the hours that you have agreed to provide cover and will therefore need to remain within 5 minutes of the Fire Station during those times, although there will be some flexibility for ad-hoc changes to be agreed with Station Management.
The initial training will comprise of an induction weekend, a two week Core Skills Course and an RTC weekend. Once you have successfully completed this you will be able to ride a fire appliance, though in a limited capacity.
Completion of the Core Skills Course places you on the Firefighter (RDS) Development Programme which is accredited through Skills for Justice. On completion of the Development Programme you will be deemed as a competent Firefighter.
There will be further training within 6 months of completing the Core Skills Course as follows:
There will be regular fitness tests on station during drill nights to ensure your fitness levels do not drop between attendance on the Core Skills Course and attendance on the BA Course.
To apply, download and complete the application form listed below and return it to:
Human ResourcesEast Sussex Fire & Rescue ServiceChurch LaneLewesEast SussexBN7 2DZ
If you have any problems downloading the information pack or application form, please email RDSrecruitment@esfrs.org. Please allow between 5-10 working days for a response.
Your data will not be provided to a third party and will only be used for the purpose of this campaign.
Not all Fire Stations in East Sussex have RDS crews- below is a list of those that do and the recruitment status for that station. If you live in one of the areas where we are not currently recruiting, you can still apply to us and we will contact you when vacancies arise.
Brighton, Hove, Hastings and Eastbourne Fire Stations do not have Retained Crews.
Station Recruitment Status & Drill Nights
|Station ||Recruitment Status ||Drill Night & Time |
| Barcombe || All cover considered || Wednesday - 1900 |
| Battle || Day cover only, weekdays and weekends || Tuesday - 1845 |
| Bexhill || Not currently recruiting |
| Tuesday - 1900 |
| Broad Oak || Day cover a priority, but all cover considered |
| Tuesday - 1900 |
| Burwash || Day cover (anywhere between 0600-1800) only |
| Tuesday - 1900 |
| Crowborough || Weekday and Weekend daytime cover |
| Monday - 1845 |
| Forest Row || All cover considered || Monday - 1900 |
| Hailsham || Daytime and Weekend Cover only || Monday - 1845 |
| Heathfield || Weekend cover (days and evenings) and Weekday daytime cover only |
| Monday - 1900 |
| Herstmonceux || Weekday and weekend cover |
| Monday - 1845 |
| Lewes || All cover considered || Wednesday - 1900 |
| Mayfield ||Weekday and weekend daytime cover || Monday - 1900 |
| Newhaven || All cover considered |
| Wednesday - 1900 |
| Pevensey || Daytime cover only || Monday - 1900 |
| Rye || Daytime cover preferred || Tuesday - 1845 |
| Seaford || Daytime cover preferred || Wednesday - 1845 |
| Wadhurst || All cover considered |
| Monday - 1900 |
| Uckfield || Daytime cover preferred || Monday - 1900 |
Latest Update : 22 March 2018