Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service has a responsibility to keep our communities safe in both our cities, our large and smaller market towns, and also in the rural areas of our beautiful counties.
All 27 fire stations in Herefordshire and Worcestershire include on-call firefighters – men and women who are aged 18+, who live or work within five minutes of the fire station, and who can commit to being on-call for a minimum of 40 hours of each week. They form more than 60% of the operational firefighters.
For Luke Rose, it was a desire to prove people wrong and his own stubborn streak that led him to become an on-call firefighter.
“I have very little vision in my right eye and was always told that I had no chance of a career in the police, the military or the fire service,” said the 30-year-old.
“But I got talking to one of the Broadway on-call firefighters and was told it wouldn’t be a problem.
“I was a carpenter at the time and I thought that I would give it a go – it’s part of serving your community but I’ve always enjoyed an adrenaline rush and believed this would appeal to my sense of adventure.”
So, five years ago, Luke decided to take the plunge and sign up.
“My employers were very understanding,” he said. “As long as my work was up to date, they had no problems and, as a building restoration firm, they could see a very positive side in supporting the fire service by having an on-call firefighter on their staff.”
During the last five years, Luke has experienced all sorts of call-outs, but it’s a couple of the quirky ones which stick in his mind.
“People look at me a little strangely when I tell them we rescued a cow from a tree,” he said. “But there was a tree growing in a river and the cow slipped down the bank and got stuck.
“And there was also a cat-in-a-tree incident where the cat was called Meow – there was something extremely humorous in seeing a group of firefighters at the foot of a tree, shaking food boxes and calling ‘Meow’! Not a sight I shall forget!”
Luke never had any difficulties in meeting the Service’s fitness requirements.
“I played rugby and went ski-ing as well as being a regular at the gym so it was not a problem for me,” he said. “As long as you have a good general level of fitness, it’s not a worry.
“I would thoroughly recommend becoming an on-call firefighter. There is a great sense of camaraderie and you meet and work alongside people you wouldn’t otherwise get to know – for example, I have worked alongside a former Royal Marines officer, an electrician and an architect as well as a prison officer. They all bring different skill sets to the role.”
For Luke, it has meant a further progression as he has taken the next step to become a wholetime firefighter.
“I just found that the job suited me,” he said. “I loved being a carpenter, but I really enjoyed being a firefighter.
“Every day is different and you’re always on your toes.”
On-call firefighters combine their roles with other careers, or roles at home, providing a vital service to the community in which they live and work. Some work for local businesses, others are self-employed, while others are home-makers – but all enjoy the balance of their firefighter commitments with their other responsibilities, and the extra income too, knowing that they are Saving More Lives.
For anyone wanting to learn more about becoming an on-call firefighter, there is an open evening at Evesham Fire Station on Monday, 18 November at 7pm with a chance to meet the crews, learn about training and try some of the equipment. There’s no need to book – just turn up. There is also information available by visiting www.hwfire.org.uk/on-call.
Caption 1: Crew Commander Luke Rose took the chance to visit 10 Downing Street when he represented Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service at the Remembrance Parade in London last year.
Caption 2: Luke Rose (right), who is pictured with Crew Commander Simon Harbourne, joined Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service as an on-call firefighter in 2014