An appeal has gone out for more “on call” firefighters across Shropshire but they are especially needed in both Prees and Newport.
Anyone interested can turn up at two recruitment events being held at Newport Fire Station, Salters Lane, on March 12 from 6pm to 9pm and Saturday, March 28 from 10am to 1pm.
There are a total of 15 firefighters who cover the Newport area but they need more with six recently retiring or moving away.
While there are are 11 firefighters in Prees but “we can take 16,” says Watch Manager Tony Peck, who works at a concrete plant.
Firefighters come from all walks of life, including men and women who have a range of jobs from the self employed, carpenter to care worker, plumber to prison officer and mums to mechanics.
“It’s a way of life. I don’t know any different,” said Tony, a firefighter for 31 years, who turns out at all times of day and night to attend 999 calls.
His wife Sandra and grown up children “have got used to it,” he said.
Firefighters from Prees Fire Station are often called to chimney and barn fires, trapped farm animals and road traffic collisions along the busy A49 and A41 and attend incidents in neighbouring Whitchurch and Wem. They turn out to about 100 emergencies each year.
“It’s an agricultural area around Prees and we do get quite a few animals which have got stuck or barns on fire and there are quite a few accidents along the busy stetches of main road in the area. It is quite varied what we do.”
Firefighters from Newport Fire Station attend up to 150 incidents each year, mainly traffic collisions along the A41 and property fires.
“You never quite know what is going to happen next. We had a horse stuck in a horse box on the A41 recently,” said Watch Manager Charlie Cartwright, who works full time as a community fire safety officer.
“On call firefighters become part of an extended family. At Newport we get involved in lots of car washes and other events to raise money for charity on our days off.”
Firefighters are also involved in fire prevention as part of a community safety role. They knock on doors to ensure smoke alarms are fitted, educate householders about having an escape plan and encourage them to take measures to reduce the risk of fire.”
Highly skilled and trained in hi-tec equipment they are “ready for anything,” and drill each Thursday night from 7pm to 9pm at their local fire station.
“You never know what is going to happen and you have to be prepared,” said Tony, who is ready to get up in the middle of the night if the alarm is raised.
“I remember one New Year’s Eve and my wife had just got ready to go out but unfortunately I didn’t get back until 3am. I had to text her to wish a Happy New Year. These things don’t happen that often but you have to be ready.”
Making friends for life, being an integral part of the local community and being held in high regard, make up for the after lights out call outs, he added.
Firefighters must live within five minutes of their local fire station, be physically fit and able to give cover during the day. Anyone interested in joining the brigade should contact Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s admin department for an information pack on 01743 260200, visit www.shropshirefire.gov.uk or turn up at the recruitment events in March.