Greater flexibility makes role of on-call firefighter more accessible
On-call firefighters are integral to Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service's critical work to keep the county's communities safe. They respond to a range of emergencies and engage with their local communities in numerous ways.
They do all this while having a day-job in other industries - an arrangement which is both feasible and very rewarding for both the firefighter and his/her employer.
Most people performing the role of on-call firefighter in Warwickshire live within five minutes of a fire station and respond as needed.
Ideally, this is the case, but it is not essential. The Fire & Rescue Service is now offering greater flexibility to ensure that the service accesses the maximum number of high-quality recruits.
Nick Bance, an on-call firefighter based at Southam Fire Station, lives nine minutes away, in Bishops Itchington. Nick runs an independent fire protection consultancy for businesses and has worked as an on-call firefighter for nine years.
How does he make this work? He works his day-job from a desk at Southam Fire Station and is therefore able to respond to incidents when on-call as necessary.
He said: “When I initially enquired about joining on-call, I spoke with the Watch Manager and he said that I lived too far away, but it might be possible to join if I worked from the fire station. I went along to the next taster session and thought ‘yeah, I'll give this a go.’
"I successfully completed the physical and written tests to advance to the initial training course for new recruits. Two weeks later, we participated in a passing out parade in front of our families and the Deputy Chief Fire Officer.”
Nick finds working as an on-call firefighter very rewarding. On-call firefighters receive exactly the same training as wholetime firefighters, and it can take around three years to become qualified as a competent firefighter.
“I joined up because I wanted to help my community," Nick said. "I would certainly recommend it to gain life skills. I am emergency response vehicle trained and can drive appliances to incidents. I find that I am constantly refreshing my skills and keeping up to date with new fire policies and procedures. It’s enjoyable and rewarding, particularly if you rescue someone from a road traffic collision or save someone’s life, then it’s all worthwhile.”
Finding a balance between his two roles has been made possible by using the station as his office, a move which works perfectly well.
“I have a desk and can do all my paperwork at the fire station," he said. "There’s a kitchen, off-street parking and shops a short walk away...and it's a quicker run if I'm called out! It’s comfortable to combine my two jobs and I am sure there are local people out there with a laptop who could do a similar thing to me.”
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service's Community Engagement Officer, Gosia Zielinska, said: "Nick is a great example of an on-call fighter who is doing wonderful work for his community without detriment to his day-job.
"Those who work remotely may be able to work from one of our on-call fire stations, as Nick does. While he can run his business from his local station, he also provides fire cover and is available for any emergencies. This is very much an option for anyone considering becoming on-call firefighter. Our on-call firefighters choose when they are available - days, times - as long as their weekly availability matches the agreed hours. The hours vary from 40 to 120 per week and the number of weekly callouts varies but, on average, is two or three.
"Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service could not protect the community the way it does without on-call firefighters. We are so grateful to all of them and their employers who have found out that it is not disruptive to their business at all. To have an on-call firefighter on the staff really is a great way for a business to contribute to the community with the minimum of disruption."
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting for on-call firefighters across the county, especially in Fenny Compton and Shipston-on-Stour. If any business would like to learn more about on-call and the benefits of having an on-call on their books, they are very welcome to contact the service for advice. For more details, please visit: https://bit.ly/OnCallWarwickshire