Sat at home watching tele with the kids after a long day when “nee nar nee nar nee nar”. My kids know exactly what it means my 3 year old shouts “Fire daddy”, dogs go mad and from out of the kitchen my wife shouts “love you” as I’m running out of the door.
I am really lucky, my father in law was a retained sub-officer for 32 years so my wife is more than aware what life can be like living with a retained Firefighter. The amount of times she has been stranded in Tesco shopping, or the kids being chucked into the car to meet her coming home from work at the Fire station. The role of being a retained Firefighter is a way of life, as much as you don’t won’t it to run your life it inevitably will.
I am retained at a station which has both retained and an whole time crew. We have 3 fire engines and 4 special appliances, so we do go to a variety of incidents. I do enjoy the balance of both whole time and retained roles. I attend incidents I would rarely attend in my whole time role in a city.
On this shout, I come into the station and have a look at the monitor to see which vehicles are required. It’s 2 pumps and the rescue tender for a RTC on one of our trunk roads. Being fairly close to the station I’m 2nd in so drive the rescue tender. Once there the first crew are setting up the equipment and waiting on our dedicated hydraulic cutters and spreaders. We quickly extricate the casualties and hand them over to the ambulance crews. Luckily this time the 2 casualties had minor injuries but as you can imagine this isn’t always the case.
In my retained role in a fairly small town, I have been to 2 RTCs where I have known deceased casualties and I have also been to our best friends house that was on fire.
It is hard to adjust back to family life if you’ve just come back from a serious or a protracted incident. Inevitably you will dwell on what you’ve seen or what you’ve done.
So tonight before going to bed retained Firefighters across the country will lay out their clothes in their bedroom and make sure their alerter are near their beds ready to respond.
The retained model is not perfect, but people don’t realise the commitment that is needed from yourself, families and employers.