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WDS/RDS Dual Contacts


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Hi all,

Is there anyone on this forum who is W/T as well as on call on their days off? It’s not a massively done thing in my brigade being W/T and on call, only a handful of people spring to mind. 

I’m not RDS, however I live 3 minutes away from a RDS station (in the same brigade I work for). I won’t lie I’m not overly interested in doing it, I enjoy my 4 days off however if they offered a zero hour contract sort of agreement where I booked on to help out as and when needed, with no commitment required, then it’s something I would consider. I’ve often thought about this when their truck is unavailable and I’m sat down the road with the majority of skill sets. No extra training or drill nights required, no stealing shouts off the people at that station, just simply booking on every now and then to help out.

Just intrigued if anyone has this sort of agreement where they just get paid for the shouts they go on instead of being tied into a retainer.

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Short answer, if you're not interested, don't bother. You'll have to do the same contract as anyone else, though highly likely you'll be able to get away with less hours per week (I do thirty but our system is slightly different. Colleagues who are retained on their off days across the border do an average of 40). If you're use to finishing your set and doing whatever fiddle or relaxation you please, being tied to five minutes of a fire station will be a total bind if you're not that keen in the first place. 

You'd think in this day and age they would have a more flexible system to take advantage of WT wanting to chip in to help RDS availability a little, but I've yet to hear of such a system and I'm a bit of nerd about it. 

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The thing is, even on a zero hour contract, you are committed the moment the alerter goes off. So if youre the only driver/OIC/4th bod and its gone off at an inconvinient time, thems the breaks. And thats when people get the hump about it, when youre on call its both feet in, no matter what you say about it.

I dont know what your service’s policy about dual contracts but in my service a bod on a dual contract can give cover right up until they go on duty. Its not unheard of for someone to be at a going job for a good 3-4 hours and then need to be released to go on duty. By the time they knock off duty theyve effectivly been on the clock for nearly 20 hours

Alot of people do both in my service, i take my hat off to them ( bizzarely some even do day crewed AND retained on their days off, their life revolves around two alerters; they are still 100% committed to the RDS role ) but unless you really want to do it and feel you can give the commitment, i’d enjoy your free time or get a fiddle that fits easier around your life

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WT/RDS dual contracts are very common up here. 
There are reduced hours contracts offered to folk in the same position as you @StandPipe, usually folk that can OIC and/or drive. They aren’t zero hours/come in when you can type things though, they’re usually around 30-40 hours a week with a specified amount of that being daytime cover.

On your point @Luminoki, we’ve brought in a dual-contractor rest policy (after a telling off from HMI a few years back), which means folk that have been out with the retained can be given delayed starts to WT shifts to catch up on rest. Works well for the most part, though it can be difficult if there’s been big jobs on with multiple RDS crews getting pulled in for makeups, standbys and reliefs.

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I know a few competent/development firefighters who do dual contracts. 

All i know is that they're contracted to provide x amount of hours per week, say 30/40 hours but it isnt set in stone. Hours can carry over and it does seem to be somewhat flexible in the sense that you just need to get them done over the year. 

I doubt very much you'd get away with anything more flexible than this.

The wholetime folk who do it seem to spend a lot of time complaining about the money which is strange to me. Because if I was money motivated then I wouldn't be opting to be a retained firefighter in my spare time... I'd do something more profitable i.e literally anything else.

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*Something To Consider*

Currently, dual contracts, be those for WT/RDS- OC, WT/Drone Pilot (so in effect On Call for the Drone), WT/USAR recall (same) etc etc. are being reviewed by the FBU due to a potential glaring and very scary legal loophole should you get injured or worse.

If you have X amount of years in WT, say 20, but take up an RDS-OC role or any other secondary contract, if you get injured or killed on the secondary contract after 1 year, it’s on that contract you or your family get paid out on!

Be careful and speak to your branch rep 👍🏻

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Thanks for the replies everyone, sounds like there isn’t the flexibility out there which is madness but hey ho I’m not going to lose sleep over it 🤣

@Percy that is really interesting and definitely worth knowing, @Luminoki that’s the complete opposite to my brigade. Any RDS cover, even overtime, basically any form of paid work within the brigade is only allowed on your 2 middle days off duty. This is to ensure everyone has at least 2x 24 hour periods clear from duty. (This is admittedly sometimes flexible with courses however the 2x rest days are still guaranteed).

@C_Iain I don’t think that is something my brigade will ever consider (the delayed starts) as they make it very very clear to our dual contractors that they need a 24 hour rest period before reporting for duty on day 1 of the tour. 

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I've known plenty of Firefighters that are on call and then get a WT position and keep doing the on call as you are used to being chained to an alerter and your free time not really being your free time, but WT first then on call and stick at it is rare due to the shock to the system!

A handful of Firefighters who are in your position are on zero hour contracts, however I know my brigade/HR doesn't like them as how do you manage someone who exercises the zero part of their contract more often than not and doesn't attend drills, training courses etc.

The most common minimum level of commitment is a 40 hour contract either in a set pattern, or you decide which hours you do each week so you have the flexibility and it gets monitored over a period of time to make sure you consistently provide those hours as minimum.

Your reasoning is sound that you're sat there and can get a pump on that wouldn't be otherwise, but the reality is you'll be tied to it more than you think and the financial returns won't outweigh that. 

There are some Firefighters that it works for, but as you admitted yourself if you aren't overly interested it probably isn't for you. Good luck if you do choose to go for it!

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Of the 350 ish retained in Humberside, over 100 are now dual contract, some within the Brigade on wholetime, others in other roles, and plenty that travel out of county. Some stations have over 75% of their crew upwards of 15+ that are dual.  If put on the right wholetime watches it works well.

There is a thing where you need to be booked of x number of hours before you sart wholetime shift to ensure you have a break, 

Humberside do run 24 hour wholetime shift, 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on then 5 days off which everyone in happy with up here.  There are many that are busier on their retained stations than wholetime stations. 

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We have lots of dual contracts in Hereford and Worcester and it does work unless all the WT are on the same colour watch, meaning they’re off and available at the same time. 

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It’s something that keeps getting played with up here @Noddy. Whether it’s better to spread the dual contracts out through the watches to not deprive individual retained stations or areas of crew at the same time or to put them together on the same shifts so that, in theory, you only have to worry about the staffing on the days those watches are on?

In reality, staffing is usually on it’s a**se regardless. 🤷🏻‍♂️


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@C_Iain that was an issue here, HQ were just putting anyone any old watch and not thinking about it, wasn't till the WM at their RDS said something with some common sense, all the others had not even thought about it.  If done right with a bit of thinking it will work well but then there is no common sense these days.

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