On-call firefighter on balancing rural work, life, and firefighting
Leintwardine on-call firefighter Peter Murray features in the BBC One documentary series Home Front Heroes, as the modern-day equivalent of a war-time air-raid warden.
As part of the documentary series leading up to Remembrance Sunday, former Paralympian and member of the House of Lords, the Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, joined Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service for a training day to help her explore the bravery of her grandfather who was an air-raid warden in World War II.
Peter was undertaking breathing apparatus training and Tanni joined him and some of his firefighting colleagues in the cosmetic 'smoke'-filled fire house to experience some of the conditions her grandfather would have faced during the air-raids over South Wales.She also witnessed training involving a 'flash-over' fire – where even from her position of safety, and wearing protective equipment, she could feel the heat of the inferno.
As part of the programme, Tanni interviewed Peter to learn about what motivated him to become a firefighter in a rural community and how he balances this with his other role as a self-employed award-winning craftsman and woodsman.
All 27 fire stations in Herefordshire and Worcestershire have on-call crew – men and women who are aged 18+, who live and work within five minutes of the fire station, and who can commit to being on-call for 40 hours of each week.
Peter recalls why he joined the Fire Service: "I'd just moved to Leintwardine from Bristol and thought it would be a great way to meet other people in the village and to subsidise my income while I built up my hand-made furniture business.
"But I soon realised that while it was useful to me, I also enjoyed becoming useful to my new community; the fire station in Leintwardine can respond so quickly to emergencies, giving the local crew the best chance of saving or rescuing local residents, their families, their homes, their businesses, and their animals.It's a wonderful thing to be part of such an important and respected service."
"My first call-out was memorable – a trailer had tipped over on a farm and knocked a worker down a hole.We got him out safely and winched the trailer to a safe position while the air ambulance took him to hospital.
"As a craftsman I spend a lot of my time on my own in my workshop and being part of the Fire Service gives me the chance to get out and do exciting thing as part of a team - and the extra money is always appreciated. Leintwardine is a quieter station so it's been no problem balancing my on-call commitments with my home life – and as I'm new to the area it's helped me get to know people and feel like I'm a part of the village.
"I really enjoyed chatting to Tanni – she seemed to really appreciate the work we do. I hope the programme helps people to understand the importance of the role of on-call fire fighters, especially in rural areas."
At the end of the Fire Service training day, Tanni said: "The on-call firefighter is a genuine community champion. Like the air-raid wardens of World War II, these men and women are a vital part of their town or village, working and living locally and providing first response for fires, road accidents, water incidents, and even rescuing animals.
She continued: "During their training day, I was struck by their commitment to the Fire Service and to their communities, and also their skills and teamwork in the most hostile conditions. They really are the modern-day Home Front Heroes."
Home Front Heroes with Tanni Grey Thompson is available on BBC iplayer until 6 December 2018.
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