Amid a shortage of staff, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service is calling for more people across Purbeck including Swanage, to consider becoming an on-call firefighter.
Following a week-long recruitment campaign, several people have stepped forward but the fire service is urging more local residents from “all walks of life” to get in touch.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service’s on-call development manager, Wayne Jones said:
“The stereotype of a firefighter is usually of a white man, with superhero fitness and strength, but the reality is that our firefighters come from all walks of life and all parts of the community.”
Examples of current firefighters serving in the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service include a person born with a club foot, a working mum, someone with diabetes and another with dyslexia. There’s also a wide mix of ages.
Working as part of a close-knit team
The benefits of becoming an on-call firefighter include working as part of a close-knit team, earning extra money and receiving training, which helps develop a broad range of transferable work and life skills.
At Swanage and Wareham Fire Stations, the average annual earnings over the past 12 months of an on-call firefighter was £6,500.
The fire service says that the key requirements for applicants are:
- A strong desire to support the local community
- Enthusiasm for working as part of a team
- A reasonable level of fitness
- To live or work within a reasonable distance from their local fire station
“Weekdays are always a challenge”
Station manager Nic Courtice, who manages the Purbeck fire stations of Bere Regis, Swanage and Wareham, said:
“The very nature of on-call cover means we can’t say we need a specific number of people, but weekdays are always a challenge, as there is limited employment locally.
“However, we know that a lot of people are now working from home, so hopefully they may be able to consider being an on-call firefighter in their community as well.
“The amount of cover that people need to offer can vary on a case by case basis, so we would urge anyone interested to get in touch for a chat and we can work towards a plan that works for the service and the individual.
“Equally, if people have concerns about their suitability, we’d urge them to look at the requirements on our website and get in touch with us.”
Devastating Wareham Forest fire
The call for more firefighters comes after an eventful year, which saw Swanage and Wareham firefighters called to all manner of emergencies.
This notably included the devastating Wareham Forest fire in May 2020, which burned for weeks and destroyed hundreds of acres of land.
Dozens of local firefighters bravely hurried to extinguish the blaze, which is believed to have been started by a disposable barbecue or camp fire.
“You don’t need to be superhuman”
One on-call firefighter at Wareham Fire Station is Tom, who also works for the Forestry Commission. He has been an on-call firefighter for 37 years, and now serves as a crew manager. He said:
“The benefits of being an on-call firefighter are you get lots of training in subjects you may not really have for your full time occupation, you get paid for it, but also you become a better person for the training and what you can put into your community.
“To be an on-call firefighter, you don’t need to be superhuman, you just have to have a degree of physical fitness.”
Following in his great-uncle’s footsteps
Another one of Wareham’s on-call firefighters cited his proud family history as a reason for getting involved.
Wareham Fire Station said:
“Alex is one of our on-call firefighters. He is a full time student and was looking for a part time job so he came knocking on our door. His great uncle was a firefighter during World War Two so Alex is proudly following in his footsteps.”
Alex, an on-call firefighter at Wareham Fire Station
More information is available on the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service website
To get in contact, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01722 691444 – leave a message saying the station you’re interested in, and someone will get back to you.