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To think on call firefighters is exploitative

(58 Posts)
cheesyinkent Tue 21-Mar-17 09:04:05

And to encourage ds (21) to not try to get a job there. They basically want firefighters on call that are paid virtually nothing unless they get called out, and at that point they earn just above min wage.

You have to never be more than 10 mins away from the station for 60 hours a week but no guarantee of any work at all. It's like all the risk of a firefighter with no benefits.

Aibu to just think they should employ people normally and compensate them accordingly?

Rinoachicken Tue 21-Mar-17 09:06:19

My dad is a fireman. YANBU at all

Pinkypierainbowdash Tue 21-Mar-17 09:06:32

Are you sure thats he case thou?
Normaly if your on call you get your hourly rate plus a call out rate if called .

You are defo not being ur if it is the case thou.i would strongly get him to look at other jobs aswell.

Trifleorbust Tue 21-Mar-17 09:11:17

God, that is shocking. I want the people who are charged with getting my baby out of my house in the event of a fire to be paid properly!

Boiing Tue 21-Mar-17 09:12:30

The firefighters here all have second jobs (decorating) cos that's how broke they are. Yanbu. 😢

cheesyinkent Tue 21-Mar-17 09:13:01

Thanks rino, I was hoping people like your dad would agree.

You do get a holding fee, but it works out as less than a pound an hour, 3k a year.

kierenthecommunity Tue 21-Mar-17 09:14:05

Like a retained firefighter? It's no different from being a special constable or a first responder for the ambo is it?

Bit of an insight into the job, doing something for the community and a leg up of you apply for a full time position?

helpfulperson Tue 21-Mar-17 09:14:58

I guessing this is retained firefighters. Most of them have other jobs as well. They are normally used to cover areas where there is often only couple of call outs a week so the cost of a fully manned station would be completely disproportionate.

WhirlwindHugs Tue 21-Mar-17 09:15:04

IME the guy I knew who did this had an understanding day job, who would let him instantly go if necessary.

cheesyinkent Tue 21-Mar-17 09:15:37

Just to be more accurate the pay is about 10 an hour, so a bit above the min wage. But you can only be called out for an hour so can loose alot in travel and getting ready.

Rinoachicken Tue 21-Mar-17 09:16:55

It benefits no one except the government and is bordering on unsafe for the public. But then safety is not what they care about when they are reducing the number of ff per pump either. It's about saving money and nothing else.

Personally I prefer my firefighters to be sitting at the fire station, 20 seconds away from the fire engine and literally doing nothing except waiting for the call if my house in on fire.

IamFriedSpam Tue 21-Mar-17 09:18:47

I don't think this is a career so much as a bit of extra work for people who want to help the community and are possibly interested in the fire service. You'd need an actual job as well and it would only be suitable for people whose primary employment was flexible enough to let them leave when needed.

Rinoachicken Tue 21-Mar-17 09:19:26

My grandpa was also a fireman. The number of changes that have been forced through in the name of efficiency, that are actually dangerous, is frightening. But for some reason our firefighters don't have the support of the public, because people see them as lazing around all day. It's a different story when it's their house on for though.

Rinoachicken Tue 21-Mar-17 09:19:39


BreatheDeep Tue 21-Mar-17 09:19:49

It's not meant to be a 'full' job though. Like a PP said it's a bit like a special in the police. You're meant to have another job at the same time.

BarbaraofSeville Tue 21-Mar-17 09:20:07

Sounds awful, but what is the chance of no work at all? I suppose it depends on the environment - built up area with loads of houses/shops/factories/motorway, they would be quite busy, but rural area with no major motorways, call outs might be much lower.

How much do they realistically earn over a year - can he ask what the average number of call outs are?

Are some of the 60 hours during the night so at least he has free time to get on with his life at other times? And there must be some training/kit checking stuff to do where he would have to go to the station - is he paid for that?

I know someone who works like this and to him it works out quite well, but that would all depend on local wages, housing costs etc.

Round here, anything above minimum wage/£20k pa is very much above average/desirable and can buy property etc, but obviously poverty wages in London/South East.

LadyPW Tue 21-Mar-17 09:20:57

I had an employee who was a retained fireman in his "spare" time. He loved it. He got his full-time wage from us and extra money plus the experience from the fire service. I think he was eventually planning to become a full-time firefighter. Yes ideally we'd have a full complement of permanent properly-paid firefighters but..... My guy was retained by a small station where there was far less call for a full-time staff - small rural-ish village. Close enough to a main town if several engines were needed for a big blaze but small enough to not merit a proper station with multiple engines. It worked well for everyone.

Rinoachicken Tue 21-Mar-17 09:22:23

The problem is IAmFried is that many areas are now only staffed by OC/PT FF, they won't recruit full time to save money. You might be surprised to learn how many major towns are manned this way when you would think (hope) they were manned FT.

They don't exactly advertise to the public that they do this. Ft try to warn people when they go on strike to prevent it but asni said above - no one cares until it's their house on fire

cheesyinkent Tue 21-Mar-17 09:23:28

You can choose the 60 hours, apparently most have them at times they are sleeping. But this sounds even more dangerous IMO, if your always on call when asleep then you aren't going to be in the best frame of mind to help someone in an emergency.

This is a major built up area. I see it viable for someone as a volunteer position, but they seem to like recruiting young guys. Unless you have an employer that's willing for the on call hours to be normal working hours then it just doesn't work IMO. He is looking at it as a top up job to maybe get into the service.

DJBaggySmalls Tue 21-Mar-17 09:23:29

YANBU. Fire men risk their lives, so should be treated with decency.
IMO people need secure housing, guaranteed minimum living wage and a decent job contract before they can do anything constructive.

loveulotslikejellytots Tue 21-Mar-17 09:26:01

DH is a part time ff (he also has a full time position) so does the on call bit on his days off. He's paid £1.09 an hour. But, for him that doesn't really matter. He's on call when he's at home, doing nothing anyway or over night. He then has a trigger point of about 7 hours, so once he's been called out for 7 hours any further calls he is paid a higher hourly rate. It's a job you do for the love of it. All of his friends have second jobs or businesses on the side.

loveulotslikejellytots Tue 21-Mar-17 09:30:31

And unfortunately because of cuts to funding crews are going out with less people on fire engines. They used to ride with 6, it's gradually been reduced. There are now proposals for them to have just 3 people on a fire engine.

Cheesey - are you actually in Kent. My DH works for Kent, if your Son has specific questions you can PM me. I know Kent are recruiting full time fire fighters very soon. They are the first service to do a full time recruitment for years. A lot recruit part time then transfer them across to full time when vacancies come up.

cheesyinkent Tue 21-Mar-17 09:33:07

Yy Rino, I think the scheme started for rural areas where is made sense but is now being rolled out everywhere even where it doesn't make sense as a cost cutting measure.

FirstSeemItThenBeIt Tue 21-Mar-17 09:34:40

Well, someone has to be on call during the night, or do you want everyone to wait until your son is up and about to have their emergency? confused

I think you're getting confused between FT firefighters, and retained firefighters operating on an emergency basis in rural communities. I know plenty of people who do it; it tops up their salary from their FT job, and is a great way to serve the community.

I don't agree that it's taking advantage to pay people a retainer and then pay them on top of that for training and call-outs. Seems pretty reasonable and sustainable to me, actually.

cheesyinkent Tue 21-Mar-17 09:34:57

Thanks jelly tots, not actually in Kent (it's just a name) but he might have some questions about it if it's OK to ask generally?

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