Have you got what it takes to be an on-call firefighter?

Heanor Fire Station.
Heanor Fire Station.

How many fire stations are there in Derbyshire? How long does it take to get a fire engine to reach your home or place of work? Where is your nearest fire station? What are ‘on-call’ firefighters?

One of the reasons I’ve chosen this topic is that Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is heavily reliant on its part-time (on-call) firefighters - they account for over 60% of the operational workforce.

These are the men and women, who may have other jobs and live or work near an on-call station.

They only respond when their pager goes off and they attend the station once a week for training once their basic training is complete.

Is the role of an on-call firefighter something you have ever considered? We need more local people stepping up to take on this vital role.

DFRS has 31 fire stations spread throughout the county of Derbyshire and 27 of those have on-call firefighters responding from them, so there’s a good chance that should you require a fire engine, then it would be one of these part-time stations that respond.

As for how long it takes for us to arrive, we aim to get their as soon as we can, normally within five to seven minutes.

An on-call firefighters’ skills, knowledge and expertise are exactly the same as their wholetime counterparts, but they are not employed by the fire service full time.

So, what qualities do you need to be a firefighter? I can tell you it’s a hugely broad range of skills, both technical and practical with an ability to improvise and good humour can really help too!

As for the job itself, what does it entail? A ‘shout’ (firecall) can be anything from a fire, a person stuck in a lift, an animal rescue or a road traffic collision.

Whilst it’s possible to encounter some challenging situations, such incidents are, thankfully rare.

Being a firefighter means you will find yourself at the sharp end of things and the skills you develop both in training and at shouts are very much transferable to other areas of life.

People from all walks of life become on-call firefighters bringing together different views, different cultures and different professions, but when their pagers go off, they become a dedicated professional fire and rescue team and that’s what matters.

Being an on-call firefighter is rewarding in many ways. The feeling you get when you make a positive and sometimes life-saving difference is hard to beat, it’s a feeling you just can’t buy, and it’s something that will change your life (in one way or another).

So, it’s a job for local people to reflect the communities in which they live and it’s the local population that help maintain our essential service. Is this you?

If you feel you may have something to offer, please pop along to your local fire station or look online at http://www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/jobs-and-careers/firefighters/on-call-firefighters for more details.