Thursday, 11 April 2013

A Bakers Dozen Are On The Run At The Fire Service

Firefighting crews in Cambridgeshire have boosted their ranks after a batch of 13 new recruits joined the county's on-call team.

Melanie Bass (Ramsey), Tom Bellinger (Sutton), Tom Bruce (Littleport), Jason Cook (Gamlingay), Linford Desborough (Yaxley), Lee Fenn (Soham), Duncan Fraser (Ely), Paul Greaves (Papworth), Conor Garrod (Soham), Ritchie Hawkins (Yaxley), Joe Swales (St Ives), Ross Turner (Cottenham), and Henry Wisdom (Sutton) all qualified as on-call firefighters at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service after completing an intensive two-week training course in Huntingdon.

The on-call firefighters are fully trained professionals who save lives in their communities alongside their day-to-day lives. They may be at home or work when they receive a pager alert and straight away they must jump into action and get ready to deal with any incident.

The new recruits are now on-call after completing their training last month (March) and attend emergencies in their local communities. In about six months, after they have received practical experience and attended incidents, they will attend Breathing Apparatus (BA) training, after which they will be able to play a bigger role in incidents.

Some new recruits have other jobs and respond to 999 emergencies while they are at work thanks to the support of local employers, who recognise the importance of allowing their staff to respond to incidents.

There are also benefits to the employer and employee as on-call firefighters receive new skills and training which they may be able to use in their full time jobs as well.

On-call firefighters have to be aged 18 and over, have a good level of all-round fitness and live or work within five minutes travelling time of an on-call fire station.

CFRS is recruiting for on-call firefighters and to find out more call 01480 444500 or log on to

New Recruit Case Studies:
Melanie Bass (Ramsey)Mother-of-two Melanie Bass said she felt a real "sense of achievement" after passing out as an on-call firefighter at Ramsey Fire Station.

The 38-year-old from Ramsey Mereside, who has two teenage daughters, said being a firefighter was something she had always thought about but family commitments meant she didn¿t have the time until now.

She said: "My daughters are quite proud even if they do find it a bit bizarre. Some people are quite shocked when I tell them I'm a firefighter because it's predominately a male role.

"I spent a lot of time in the gym when I was preparing for the assessments and I'm fitter now than I've been my entire life."

Melanie works as an administrator in her family Shell and Auger Drilling business which means she is able to provide daytime and alternate weekend cover at the station.

She said her on-call duties also fit well around her hobbies of going to the gym, zumba, horse riding and shopping.

Tom Bruce (Littleport)Bar Manager Tom Bruce, 26, was looking for a new challenge when he decided to apply as an on-call firefighter at Littleport Fire Station.

The father-of-two said: "I used to be a bar manager in Newmarket and I was looking for a new challenge.

"My family are very impressed with what I¿ve achieved and decided to do and I¿m really enjoying it."

Tom said training was physically challenging but there were people of "all shapes and sizes" on the course and everyone coped really well.

His first shout was a chimney fire at the start of April, shortly after passing out. He said: "When my pager went off it was a bit of a shock but I just got to the station and prepared myself.

"Because it was a chimney fire and they're slower incidents, the commander had time to talk me through everything that was going on and how certain things were done, which was great."

Tom, who works at a local pub in Littleport, provides daytime cover at the station around his other family and work commitments.

Linford Desborough (Yaxley)University graduate Linford Desborough said being an on-call firefighter is a great, flexible job to fit around his aspirations of becoming a freelance drum teacher.

The 21-year-old said: "I saw an advert for on-call firefighters and thought it would be a really good job to do that is well-respected and worthwhile.

"It holds a lot of responsibility and is completely different to any other job I've had. Training has been the best bit and what I have learnt has completely exceeded my expectations."

When his pager went off for his first shout, Linford said it was "a bit surreal". He explained: "I was waiting for a call for days and it didn¿t go off. Then when it finally went off, I got a big adrenalin buzz. Everything went really quickly and all my training just kicked it. The incident was a car fire and I used a hose reel to put it out."

Music graduate Linford provides 24-hour cover at Yaxley from Monday through until Thursday, which he fits around playing the drums and his hobbies of running and kayaking.

Duncan Fraser (Ely)Sports coach Duncan Fraser, from Ely, said: "I've always wanted to be a firefighter to serve the community and to save lives.

"It's lots of hands-on learning and gaining experience by doing things, which I think is the best way to learn as I pick things up really quickly that way.

"When I got my first shout the adrenalin started pumping and I just jumped out of bed and ran to the station. It's exciting and satisfying sitting in the fire engine knowing you could be on the way to a big incident where you have the chance to save lives."

The 28-year-old qualified sports coach trains the Ely 1st Cricket team as well as playing cricket and rugby himself. At present, he is job hunting and said being an on-call firefighter, and the skills and training associated with the role, will hopefully help him land further employment.

Duncan also attended the service's biggest incident of the year so far - a fire at Amey Cespa Industrial Site, where he dug straight in and operated hose reels, light portable pumps and hydrants.

He added: "Being in the fire service makes you feel like you're part of successful team who are well respected and most importantly, help people."

Paul Greaves (Papworth)Growing up in a family of firefighters, Paul Greaves said becoming and on-call firefighter is a dream come true.

The dad-of-two from Great Cambourne is an arctic lorry driver for Mick George Skips by day and provides cover at Papworth Fire Station in the evenings and at weekends.

The 33-year-old, who was previously a Special Sergeant for Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: "My granddad, dad, brother and uncles were, and are still, firefighters in Hertfordshire and I wanted to do it years ago.

"I wanted to become a firefighter to live my dream, but also to put something back into the community.

"My first shout was a chimney fire and I dived straight in and got my hands dirty helping the crew. I knew a few of the guys from Papworth before I started but there's a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork when we're out on a shout.

"I've been quite busy since joining and have already been on seven shouts. I'm constantly learning all the time and every job is different."

Paul, who plays rugby for Royston Rugby Club, has already attended two high-profile fires; the Amey Cespa Industrial Site and a deliberate industrial unit fire in Dry Drayton.

He said his wife and two children, Owen, 10, and Ruby, 3, are proud of him, and his friends are thrilled to see him live his dream.

Ross Turner (Cottenham)When community-focussed techie Ross Turner got married last year, one of the conditions he told his wife-to-be was that when they bought a house, it had to be within 5 minutes of one of Cambridgeshire's 24 on-call stations.

The 23-year-old said being a firefighter is something he has always wanted to do and after enrolling into a fire cadet scheme in Cambridge as a teenager, he was adamant he wanted the Service to be a part of his life.

The Cottenham resident said: "I'm really pleased I've achieved my lifetime goal and am looking forward to learning new things, training and developing myself as a person within the fire service.

"I enjoy the respect the job brings, the demands of it, and of course working with members of the community. I originally would have liked to have been a wholetime firefighter but now I'm just so happy to have achieved my main aim.

"When I got my first call it was a real rush and exciting. I wasn't nervous, just more eager to get going."

Ross was part of one of the crews at the recent Amey Cespa Industrial Site incident, covering a "graveyard" midnight until 4am shift. "I loved it," he said. "It was brilliant to see and learn more about really big incidents. It emphasised to me just how important all of our basic training was - especially communicating with each other."

Ross works for Cambridge Audio Visual, based in Cottenham, installing a range of electrical devices at institutions across the county and is an on-call firefighter in the evenings and at weekends.

He was heavily involved in Scouts before joining the Fire Service and was also a Community First Responder in Willingham, where he previously lived. As well as playing badminton, cycling and kayaking, Ross runs the technical side of Cottenham Theatre Workshops and local productions.