Special Report: Firefighters are heroes who save lives – fancy being one of them?
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue needs more on-call firefighters based in Grantham, Corby Glen and Stamford, and is calling for people to consider signing up.
Few jobs would give better satisfaction and sense of doing good than that of a firefighter.
Firefighters are heroes who save lives time and time again, whether that be rescuing people from house fires, cutting free casualties trapped in cars following road traffic collisions or stepping in to give medical treatment when the ambulance service cannot cope.
They are also everyday people – factory workers, teachers, carers. And you could be one, too.
A firefighter from Corby Glen has spoken out about his own experience to give a real glimpse at what life is like as a member of a retained fire and rescue crew. Michael Benson, who is a full-time carer to his wife, looks back on some of the incidents he has recently attended.
He said: “It’s 7.03 on Monday evening and I’ve just been paged about an incident. All I know is that it’s a four-car RTC on the A1 with persons trapped. It sounds serious. I jump up from my dinner, kiss my wife goodbye and rush to the station – just round the corner.
“We arrive on scene, together with my colleagues from other fire stations and paramedics from the East Midlands Ambulance Service, and set to work. We quickly need to get the road shut off and deliver immediate care to the casualty whilst getting our equipment ready to go. There are multiple persons trapped and one lady is seriously injured – drifting in and out of consciousness. We need to deal with the casualty first – making sure her airways are open and keeping her alive.
“When the paramedics and doctors arrive they take over the emergency care, while we make the vehicles stable and cut people out of their cars. We soon get the roofs and doors off and get the casualties moved. We help put the seriously injured lady on the spinal board and see her off to hospital.
“When the casualties have been taken to hospital, we help the police get the road clear for traffic.
“On the way home from the job, I feel such a buzz from being able to make a difference – the people we rescued from the vehicles stand a better chance of getting to hospital and making a recovery. I go home to bed feeling content.
“At 2.30am the next morning, I’m called to a Red 1 emergency – an elderly lady in a nearby village is having a heart attack. EMAS crews are busy in the nearby town, so unable to attend. I meet my colleagues at the station and we quickly put on our red suits and jump in the ‘fast response’ vehicle.
“We walk through the door to find a very poorly lady and a very nervous husband who is doing his best to calm her down. We quickly check her vital signs and take action. We put her in a comfortable position, give her oxygen and put the defibrillator on her, in case the worst should happen. A paramedic arrives and we hand over the care.
“On the way home, I say to my colleague how I feel I’ve made a real difference. We had calmed her, assessed her and provided the life-saving treatment she needed, whilst treating her with the respect and dignity she deserved. Her husband gave me a hug when we were leaving – a thank you for our help and support. Words can’t describe how that felt.
“We know that because we can get there quickly, we can make the difference between life or death, and in this case, we probably saved her life!
“We just never know what we will be called for.
“Last week, for example, we were helping a local farmer get one of his cows free from a muddy field. Corby Glen is a specialist animal rescue team with specialist equipment, so we are regularly asked to help move cows and horses – often which have got stuck.
“Being part of the crew here is amazing. There are currently 10 retained, or part-time, firefighters.
“And four of us have joined in the last month. We’re always recruiting so if you’d like to help us provide this vital service for your community, please give us a call on 0800 358 0204. We’re also hosting an open day at our station tomorrow (Saturday), so please pop in, 10am – 3pm.”
* Where can I be a retained firefighter? Corby Glen, Grantham and Stamford
* Who can apply to become an on-call firefighter? To apply to be an on-call firefighter you must be aged 18 or over, live or work within five minutes of your community fire station, provide on-call cover, be able to pass hearing and eyesight standards and be of good character.
* What qualities do I need? Assertive, committed, flexible.
* How much can I earn? Hourly rate for trainee on-call firefighters is £10.15. So, on average, between £300-£600 per calendar month.
* What other jobs do the part-time firefighters do? Lecturer, carer, highways officer, school caretaker, IT expert, factory worker, grounds manager...
* How do I find out more? Visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lfr
* How do I apply? The recruitment process can take up to three months to complete and involves six key stages. Throughout the process, the recruitment team provides support and guidance to trainees to ensure they are fully informed.
1. Complete an application form – call 0800 3580 204 to request a form to be posted/emailed to you. Once your application form has been received, it is forwarded to the relevant station for their consideration. The station will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time for you to attend an information meeting – an informal discussion to explain the role of an on-call firefighter and the commitment involved.
2. Undertake the National Firefighter Ability Tests, which have been developed specifically for the role of a firefighter. There are two written tests with multiple choice answers. The first is ‘working with numbers’ and the second ‘understanding information’.
3. Complete job-related tests – these are eight physical tests designed to assess fitness, strength, stamina, co-ordination, dexterity and ability to understand and apply information. The tests also look at your ability to work at heights and in darkened confined spaces.
4. Following successful completion of stages 1 to 3, you will be invited to attend an interview at your local station.
5. Next, you will be required to complete a medical assessment with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue’s occupational health provider.
6. All firefighter trainees must undergo a Police Act Disclosure Check.