‘Lingering myths’ of what it takes to be a firefighter dispelled

Flat fire was arson.
Flat fire was arson.

THE MISCONCEPTIONS of what it means to be a firefighter have been tackled head on as West Sussex’s fire and rescue service goes on a recruitment search.

Deputy chief fire officer Lee Neale has spoken about what it means to be a retained firefighter after starting in the same role himself many years ago.

“If there are still lingering myths and misconceptions about the qualities we look for when we are recruiting, this is a good opportunity for us to dispel them,” he said. “People sometimes assume it’s all about physical strength, but it isn’t. We’re looking for good communicators who can stay calm in an emergency situation.”

The county-wide campaign has invited people to come and have a go so they can find out what the job involves. It is at Horsham Fire Station on October 24.

“The have-a-go-day will be very relaxed and informal,” said Lee. “We’re holding the event in Horsham but we are hoping to see people from right across West Sussex. Even if you have never considered being a retained firefighter before, if you’re up for a challenge, come along and see if you’ve got what it takes.”

The fire service said people might spend their days cleaning windows, working in an office or being a stay-at-home parent, but this did not prevent them from adding ‘firefighting’ to their CV.

Recruiting retained firefighters in West Sussex

Recruiting retained firefighters in West Sussex

“Becoming a retained firefighter offers people a fantastic opportunity to give something back to their community and get paid while they are doing it,” said Lee. “There are also definite benefits for employers who support their local communities by having retained firefighters on their staff.”

Retained firefighters are men and women who combine their day jobs or duties with being on call for the fire service, ready to respond to emergencies when they are needed.

They receive regular training to equip them with the skills to deal with fires, road traffic accidents and a wide range of other emergencies. They also play an important role in community engagement activities.

Retained firefighters receive an annual retaining fee as well as additional payments for any incidents or community safety events they attend.

The have-a-go-day runs from 10am- 4pm at the fire station on Hurst Road. Book in advance by calling 01243 752488.

For more information on becoming a retained firefighter in West Sussex download the retained recruitment information pack or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire.

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