West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has launched an appeal for more people to train as firefighters, citing an ‘urgent need of new recruits’.
Over recent years the number of people available ‘on-call’ to the emergency service has dropped, with the fire service now looking to reverse this with a new call to action of ‘Your Community Needs You’.
On-call – formerly known as retained – firefighters are a vital part of the emergency service, particularly in West Sussex where more than half of the 25 fire stations are crewed solely by an on-call workforce.
Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “We are calling on communities to help support our work by asking people who live or work within close proximity to your local fire station to find out more about becoming an on-call firefighter.
“On-call firefighters can come from every walk of life, including builders, plumbers, farmers, office staff, together with people who are not currently employed. Previous experience is not required thanks to the comprehensive training programme.”
On-call firefighters earn a salary, known as a retaining fee, as well as pay if called out. The on-call firefighters carry out the same role as a whole-time firefighter including fires, road traffic collisions, flooding incidents or raising fire safety awareness in the community.
The nine West Sussex fire stations in most urgent need of new recruits are:
• Partridge Green
• Turners Hill
• East Grinstead
• East Preston
On-call firefighters may have another job but can be called out via an alerter which gets activated when they are paged to respond to an emergency.
Mum-of-two Katie Gray, is an on-call firefighter at East Preston Fire Station.
She said: “Being able to help the community in such a varied role and the adrenaline of not knowing what we are going to is great. There is a steep learning curve when joining the role because of the wide variety of jobs that we get, such as community events as well as operational calls.”
Steven Philby, is an on-call firefighter in Storrington and also a wholetime fighter at Chichester Fire Station.
He said: “I was surprised about how quickly you become part of a team and make a difference within the local area; the local community get to know that you are an on-call firefighter.”
As part of the drive, fitness sessions will be held in some areas for people to see what level of fitness is required for the role and to find out more about the role.
The first session has been organised by Storrington Fire Station and will be held on Saturday, September 29 at Impulse Leisure, Chanctonbury from 11.30am to 1.30pm.
To find out more about becoming an on-call firefighter visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire and select ‘Fire & Rescue recruitment’ or follow West Sussex Fire & Rescue on Facebook & Twitter for updates on events.