TWO in five Cheshire firefighters do not work in the role full-time – and the service is looking for more people to sign up.

On-call firefighters respond to emergencies and take part in other fire service activities as and when they are needed, meaning they may have full-time jobs elsewhere.

Of the 689 firefighters employed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2019-20, 270 were on-call – 39 per cent.

Across England, 35 per cent of firefighters are on-call, and the National Fire Chiefs Council says they are a 'vital part of today's fire and rescue service'.

The council says the system 'provides a highly-motivated and well-trained workforce' which is able to respond to incidents in more rural locations quicker than waiting for a whole-time crew from an urban location.

More than a dozen fire stations across Cheshire – including Northwich, Winsford and Holmes Chapel – are now recruiting on-call firefighters.

Tony O’Dwyer, group manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our fire stations in the rural areas of Cheshire are staffed by on-call firefighters.

"They are dedicated and highly valued within Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and are trained to the exact same high standards as our whole-time firefighters.

"Being an on-call firefighter in Cheshire gives people the opportunity to earn up to around £5,000 a year additional income.

"There’s a wealth of information about the role with us on our website and we have on-call opportunities available at some of our stations for which we would welcome applications from both women and men."

On-call firefighters are paid the same hourly rate as whole-time staff for the hours that they work.

The Home Office insists fire and rescue services have the resources they need to tackle incidents effectively – with on-call crews playing a vital role.

A spokesman said: “Fire and rescue services have the resources they need – they will receive around £2.3 billion 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 whole-time colleagues, have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to keep people safe."