PART-time firefighters are being recruited across East Lancashire to bring the fire service back up to full staff levels.

Senior firefighters said the number of ‘retained’ officers had dwindled in the last 20 years as people have less spare time to commit to the service.

Men and women from Colne, Nelson, Earby, Barnoldswick, Bacup, Rawtenstall, Haslingden, Hyndburn and Longridge are being encouraged to apply for positions.

Retained firefighters are paid a salary dependent on the number of hours of cover they provide, and must be able to be at the station within five minutes of receiving a call during their chosen shift pattern.

Firefighters must also have a good all round level of fitness, be able to work in confined spaces, at heights, and in hazardous conditions, and pass a literacy and numeracy test.

Retained officers are generally expected to provide 60 hours of cover per week. Station manager Denise Odgers, of Pendle Rural Fire Service, said: “A lot of people don’t live in the towns where they work now, and commute to Manchester or Burnley. People also play sports, go to the gym and have other hobbies, or have children that they take to clubs in the evenings.

“All of this means people have less spare time than they might have done in the past, when they would have joined the service. It’s a general change across the country.

“But at the moment we really need people in the daytime as well as the evenings.

“We have women working with us who drop their children off at school and then have the day time free to be retained firefighters.”

Station manager Neil Mark, of Rossendale District, said: “At present we have retained firefighters from all walks of life, backgrounds and careers, but who, when called upon become a dedicated team of fully trained, skilled men and women who play a critical role in protecting their own communities.

“Being a retained firefighter is not a job to be taken lightly, however it does provide you with a real sense of achievement and value.” The closing date is noon on Friday. Visit current-vacancies.