Firefighters are sometimes the only people who can help when a “catastrophe” strikes in the community, says Shropshire’s fire chief.
“When their emergency pagers go off, day or night, they drop everything leaving behind half eaten meals or half mown lawns. The rest of the time they are waiting for the 999 call, knowing that at any moment they could be called to help someone in peril,” said chief fire officer, Rod Hammerton.
He was speaking at a Celebration of Success event held at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn to mark “the passing out” of newly trained firefighters.
He saluted the latest intake to join the ranks at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, saying: “Together you deserve the gratitude and respect not just of the fire and rescue service but of all the people of Shropshire.”
He told the recruits and a packed audience of their family and friends: “Being a firefighter is a skilled and professional job, an immense commitment and true public service done with a genuine sense of honour and duty to the community.
“You know that when your pager does go off it could be a call from somebody who may be suffering one of the most catastrophic events in their lives and you are the people who can help them, sometimes the only people.”
Twenty eight new recruits who have completed their initial training courses were presented with certificates by Councillor Eric Carter, Vice Chair of Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority.
One was a “ground-breaking” course that saw the first Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to be trained as firefighters in a joint initiative between Shropshire and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Services and West Mercia Police.
A further 16 who completed up to a further three years training also received awards from assistant chief fire officer, Andy Johnson.
Councillor Carter also paid tribute to Shropshire employers who allowed firefighters to leave work to respond to emergency calls. “Without their generous support the fire and rescue service could not perform as brilliantly as it does,” he said.
A special award went to Shrewsbury’s Blue Watch whose firefighters host a day of fun and laughter for children from Chernobyl when they visit Shrewsbury Fire Station each year as part of a county wide charity event.
Individual awards went to the top recruits from each of the three training courses and 35 people received Achievers Awards for outstanding work during the year.