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Home » News & Events » 2013 » May » On-Call Firefighters Needed in Herefordshire

On-Call Firefighters Needed in Herefordshire

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We asked 22-year-old Leanne to tell us more about herself…
I live in Kington with my family, about a minute’s drive away from the fire station and I work in Eardisley, in my family’s marquee business. My office is literally 30 seconds away from the station, and so I provide cover in Eardisley while I’m at work. I joined HWFRS in October last year – at my second time of trying. I wasn’t fit enough the first time I applied!

What was your motivation for becoming an on call firefighter?
My uncle has been a retained firefighter for years and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. He let me know when the Service was looking for extra on call firefighters and so I decided to give it a go. Even though I wasn’t successful the first around, it didn’t put me off. I improved my fitness levels, applied again and haven’t looked back. I love every element of it!

How did you go about improving your fitness?
I started running and doing circuit training, and I do a couple of spinning classes each week as well. Wanting to become a retained firefighter gave me the motivation I needed to do more exercise, and it’s part of my life now. Needless to say, the fitness test was no problem second time around!

How physically strong do you need to be and do you need a head for heights?!
There’s some lifting that requires upper body strength but we tend to work in pairs or fours, and I can’t say I’ve ever struggled. I don’t mind heights at all.

What is the format of the training to become an on call firefighter?
To start with, there was three weeks of core skills (hose running, ladder pitches, setting up pumps and hydrants etc) and then I did a two-week BA (breathing apparatus) course in April. I’m also booked on a RTC (road traffic collision) course soon. There’s the weekly training session as well and because I’m attached to both Kington and Eardisley, I alternate between the two stations each week.

Would you say that you have developed any new skills as a result of being an on call firefighter?
Without a doubt, and they are all skills that help with other areas of your life as well. I’m far more confident now, I’m fitter and motivated to stay fit, and the trauma training and everything I’ve learnt about health and safety regulations are of real benefit in my day job.

What do your employers think of you working extra hours on call?
Well, I work for the family business and so it’s probably different for me. My Dad in particular is over the moon that I’m part of the Fire Service – he’s encouraged me all the way. He gets excited when my bleeper goes off and is always interested to hear all about the call when I get back! It’s important to catch up with the work I’ve missed though.

What do your friends think of you working as a retained firefighter? Has it had much impact on you family or social life?
My friends think it’s cool! There’s not so much to do in Kington, but I’ve found that my social life has got better since I joined the Fire Service! I’ve kept in touch with the people I’ve met on training courses and we meet up now and again in Worcester. The crews at both stations are really friendly too, and we all get on well.

What do other crew members do as their day jobs?
I know there’s an electrician, a TV engineer, a chimney sweep and several farmers – who’ve been known to turn up to shouts (call-outs) on their tractors! There’s a real mix.

Is it difficult to turn out after a long day at work or in the middle of the night?
Not at all. Even if I’m not feeling a 100% for any reason, as soon as the alerter goes off, adrenalin kicks in and I’m in the zone, ready to go.

Can you remember your very first call out?
Yes, it came in as a car fire but was actually only an over-heated engine!

What type of incidents have you been called to?
RTCs, a hill fire, animal rescues, chimney fires, all sorts really. You never know what the next one will be.

What aspect of the role do you enjoy most?
I absolutely love everything about it. It’s great to feel such a part of the community, I love the training and get a buzz from each shout. It certainly makes life in the country a little bit more exciting!

What would you say to anyone considering finding out more about becoming an on call firefighter?
Come forward and try it. Don’t think you have to be someone special. We’re just every day ordinary people trained for firefighting. I’d recommend it to anyone!

If you would like to learn more about becoming an on call firefighter, please click On our Recruitment Page or call the HR department at HWFRS on 01905 368 343 or the 24-hour answerphone line on 01905 368 378 to request an application pack. The job requires individuals to live or work within five minutes of the fire station and all recruits must be 18 or over (at the date of joining). Note that the deadline for applications is Wednesday 12 June.