So I’m back for another tour at the fire station. Like so many people in the fire service I commute to my station from outside the service area, it takes me just over an hour. This can be a godsend sometimes, to chill out after a hard day (both emotionally and physically) before I get home or it can be a bane after a late shout when I am racing back to try and do bedtime and see the kids before they go to bed. Unfortunately that’s the unpredictable nature of the emergency services.
Once at work I greet the off going watch and find out if they have anything to hand over before taking the firefighter off who is riding in my position and putting my kit on the fire engine.
First thing we have a parade in our best kit, one of the few reminders still that we are a disciplined service. At this point our officers detail us with the crews and who is riding our special appliances. It’s good to see everyone after 4 days off so generally a lot of banter on parade and everyone is full of enthusiasm for the coming tour.
Ask any Firefighter and they will tell you how important banter is across the watch. We use black humour to get over the hardest incidents which may seem insensitive to the public but it’s our coping mechanism. The watch is like a second family, you can talk about any problem, work or private life, they will have advice for you and someone will make you feel better by cracking a joke even over the most inappropriate subjects!
After all the joviality, we get down to work. Kit checks of our appliances, to make sure all our equipment is fully working and nothing is missing after fire calls. We have weekly, monthly and quarterly routines to undertake on the equipment. At my station we have a Turntable ladder so a daily check needs to be done on that too. The first couple of hours at change of shift is a hive of activity getting all this work done.
This is how it should go anyway…… We have to remember we are an emergency service, we can’t predict what the day will bring so there will be times where we have to revisit these checks as and when through the day!
Our days are well planned and are structured very similar. Uncertainty though when the next fire call will come in means inevitably our day is fluid and drills and events will be cancelled.
Over the last few years the Fire Service nationally has taken prevention more seriously. A large part of our afternoon is used to visit our local communities to fit smoke alarms in people’s homes and visit local schools to give children input about fire safety. Inevitably though our mobile data terminal (MDT) activates and an incident lights up the screen and in a matter of seconds we are again racing through the busy streets on blue lights.
This is what I love and I believe one of the draws is to the emergency services. One moment I can be sat in someone’s house or working on a computer or chatting having a cup of tea and the next racing to help someone.
As I mentioned we do finish at 5 but this depends on fire calls and can be a lot later. As much as you curse that your be late home and miss the kids going to bed or ruin plans with friends, I go home knowing that I’ve made a difference. Even if it’s making someone safer in their home or rescuing them from a fire, it’s a good feeling.