A Firefighting Life for Shropshire Women

Shropshire women at a firefighting taster session in Shrewsbury
Shropshire firefighters Ruth Walkerdine (far left) and Louise Fletcher (far right) with some of the women from across Shropshire who attended the taster session to learn what it takes to become a firefighter.

More Shropshire women interested in becoming county firefighters attended an introductory session at Shrewsbury fire HQ.

A total of 19 turned out for the third "taster" session over the weekend following on from similar events in Craven Arms and Oswestry earlier this year.

They learned how they could join the county’s 300 plus “on call” fully trained firefighters who deal with around the clock emergencies.

More “on call” fire crew, who live or work within five minutes of 22 county fire stations, are needed to turn out for a number of hours each week to answer 999 calls.

Firefighters Ruth Walkerdine and Louise Fletcher, who are among a growing number of women firefighters, were on hand to give advice on a career with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Ruth, one of three women based at Hodnet fire station, said recruits had to be physically very fit to join the brigade.

Attending the latest taster session on Saturday were women aged between 18 and mid 40’s including a teacher, fitness instructor, students, sales staff and office workers.

Leisure centre fitness instructor Michelle Townsend (42) said there were no women firefighters in her home town of Church Stretton and she hoped to be "the first one."

"I've wanted to do this for years. It's all about wanting to give something back to the community and to make people proud. I think it would be a good thing to do and a real challenge."

Danielle Fidler (25), a sports development teacher at Telford College of Arts and Technology, said it would be rewarding to help the community as a firefighter.

The would be recruits heard how they had to pass job related physical tests proving they could work in confined spaces, were confident at heights and were strong enough to put a 13.5 metre ladder back onto a fire appliance with other crew members.

Tests carried out at the brigade’s training school at Telford fire station include applicants having to climb a ladder, carry equipment wearing full fire kit around a course for almost six minutes and negotiate a blind gallery area. They also have to carry an adult sized dummy along a 13 metre course within 41 seconds and pull apart and reassemble equipment in just over five minutes.

Laura Kavanagh-Jones, who organised all three events, said one woman from south Shropshire who attended one of the earlier taster sessions was due to start training after successfully completing entry tests.

"There are up to five more women who have passed the interview stage and are now due to undergo the physical job related tests, she said.

“With only 4 per cent of our firefighters being women we want to encourage more to join us to represent our local communities.”

For information on how to become an on call firefighter contact Shrewsbury fire HQ on 01743 260200 or visit  www.shropshirefire.gov.uk


21st July, 2014