More than 20 extra firefighters are reporting for duty this week following a recruitment drive to fill on-call vacancies across Norfolk.
Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service is still searching for more new potential recruits to join them in helping to keep rural communities safe.
Two back-to-back recruitment training courses have been run after an influx of interest in the positions following a campaign to promote the project, assisted by presenter Nick Conrad of BBC Radio Norfolk.
The on-call firefighter roles allow people to continue existing careers and commitments while taking on the new challenge. The latest 21 on-call firefighters already have careers including as a plasterer, bar manager, personal trainer, butcher and farmer. The latest course also includes four female recruits, the highest number ever on one of the courses.
Of Norfolk’s 42 fire stations, 39 are reliant on on-call staff, either wholly or in part, who can be called upon when there is an incident in their area.
The fact that people have to live or work within five minutes of their station has previously caused difficulties in recruiting in some of Norfolk’s rural communities.
If a fire station does not have enough cover, four people to make up a crew, then appliances have to be sent to emergency calls from further afield, meaning response times are slower.
Retained firefighters receive a retainer for being on call and carry an alerter which lets them know when an incident occurs and, on average, on-call firefighters earn £7,000 a year. As well as the retained fee, firefighters are paid per call out and for their weekly training session.
Norfolk’s Chief Fire Officer David Ashworth said: “It is fantastic to see such a large number of new on-call staff and we welcome them to the service. Their commitment to us and to their local communities will help us ensure cover across the county so that we can keep Norfolk as safe as possible.”
Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “I am particularly pleased to see so many females on the course this time, especially in this centenary year of the suffragettes battle for equality. The hard work of our excellent fire service in recruiting to these posts reflects their ongoing dedication to keeping our residents across Norfolk as safe as they can. I wish the new firefighters every success in their new roles and would urge anyone interested in adding another string to their professional bow to get in touch.”
The Home Office has recently picked up on NFRS’s excellent work on social media to encourage new retained firefighters, particularly women, through blogs featuring firefighters’ stories. They are now looking to work with the service to feature some of Norfolk’s staff in their national work showing examples of good practice and a commitment to recruitment.
The latest recruits will fill vacancies at Fakenham, Massingham, Kings Lynn, Holt, Attleborough, Great Yarmouth, Hingham, Gorleston, Heacham, Outwell, Acle, Mundesley, Aylsham, Thetford, Outwell, Harleston, Cromer and Wells.
All recruits went through a rigorous process to make it on to the course, and over the initial two weeks of training learnt the basics around dealing with different types of incident, including fires, road traffic incidents, as well as how to work safely at height and near water. They will also undertake a further two week breathing apparatus course that will teach them how to tackle fires within buildings and structures as well as their training continuing on-the-job over the next couple of years.
There now remain 41 retained firefighter vacancies at Norfolk fire stations. These include at Attleborough, Cromer, Dereham, East Harling, Great Yarmouth, Heacham, Hethersett, Hingham, Hunstanton, Loddon, Methwold, Mundesley, North Walsham, Reepham, Sandringham, Stalham, Swaffham, Terrington, Thetford, Wells, West Walton and Wroxham.
As well as the retained fee, fire fighters are paid per call out and for their weekly training session. On average they earn £7,000 per year.
To apply to become a retained firefighter, applicants must live or work within five minutes of a fire station. Remember, not all super heroes wear capes. If you think you have got what it takes and want a rewarding career and to become part of the fire service family, visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk/safety/norfolk-fire-and-rescue-service/recruitment/becoming-a-retained-firefighter
Top image: Retained firefighters with Chief Fire Officer David Ashworth