Serving her community as an on-call firefighter
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has a responsibility to keep our communities safe in our large and smaller market towns, and also in the rural areas of our beautiful county.
22 fire stations in Shropshire include on-call firefighters – men and women who are aged 18+, who live or work within five minutes of the fire station, and who can commit to being on-call for a minimum of 84 hours of each week. They form more than 70% of the operational firefighters.
After nine years as an on-call firefighter, Elaine Timmis has had no cause to back-track on her reason for joining the service.
“If I’m totally honest, I joined up because I thought it sounded as if it would be fun,” said the 31-year-old, who is based at the Baschurch station. “And it definitely has been.”
Elaine comes from a farming family and has a busy role to play within the business.
“We have a farm shop and café which I run,” she said. “And I also assist in running our new sporting venture – the only polo club in Shropshire.
“It’s not been a problem balancing my work life and being an on-call firefighter.
“If we are short-staffed, then my business has to come first and sometimes I have to book more time off than I would like to, but generally it works very well.”
Elaine says that she gets called out perhaps 10-15 times each month and the reality of life as an on-call firefighter was quickly brought home on one of her early ‘shouts’.
“We were outside a building that was on fire and the officer in charge said to one of my colleagues whom I had trained with: ‘Get that hose in the doorway – we have to get those people out of there as soon as possible’.
“That really brought home to me how serious it can be.”
Elaine has been surprised by the wide variation in the jobs she has attended and acknowledges that her firefighting role has changed her as a person.
“It teaches you a calm and methodical way of dealing with things and I find that I can bring those skills into my workplace,” she said.
“I have found it really rewarding and I see it as a way of putting something back into the community. I would certainly recommend it, although it can be a big commitment.”
Her day job has helped Elaine keep up with the fitness requirements of the service.
“My job is very active and I spend time riding the horses at the polo club which helps to keep me fit,” she said. “I’m in a netball team and I also went to a boot camp – I much prefer to be fit.
“I get great support from my family – they always ask what has been happening after I have been out on a call.”
On-call firefighters combine their roles with other careers, or roles at home, providing a vital service to the community in which they live and work. Some work for local businesses, others are self-employed, while others are home-makers – but all enjoy the balance of their firefighter commitments with their other responsibilities, and the extra income too.
To learn more about becoming an on-call firefighter, visit www.shropshirefire.gov.uk/on-call