A question we get asked a lot is “What else do Firefighters do?”. The answer is, more than you might think!
It’s not just about putting out fires! As a Firefighter you need to expect the unexpected – you never know what kind of emergency or situation you might get called out to next.
Firefighters often have to deal with road accidents, from the results of simple driver errors to devastation caused by dangerous driving. A lot of Stations also contribute to raising road safety awareness within the community by organising talks and events.
A common part of this is rescuing trapped drivers or passengers from their vehicles. This involves the use of specialist equipment such as spreaders, which you’ll be trained to use as part of your initial Firefighter training.
However it goes further than this. Many times, Firefighters are first on the scene. They will also help with controlling traffic, comforting crash victims and providing medical care if needed until the police and ambulance arrive.
The work even extends to clearing up spills and debris to make the road safe and passable for other motorists.
This has became an increasingly common callout in recent years, particularly during the pandemic with us all being at home more often.
With the escalating amount of obesity in the UK the fire service is increasingly being called upon to help move people from their homes for transportation to hospital. Some individuals have become too large to safely and comfortably pass through doorways, or down stairwells, and medical teams are unable to access them with the extra-large stretchers needed for transport.
Then there are ridiculous situations which members of the public get themselves into. This is sometimes beyond belief – and quite often helped along by the effects of alcohol. Think people getting stuck in railings, in playground equipment – it’s all in a days work. Of course, there are many cases of children getting stuck too!
There are the more serious cases of people being trapped because of a building collapse, who have had a fall (perhaps down a hidden hole or well) or become trapped doing an activity they participate in, such as caving or potholing. There are dedicated professionals to help in such instances too, but often the Fire Brigade will be involved.
This is a stereotypical image – and it does actually involve rescuing animals from trees at times!
With large animals, a rescue attempt can often be risky if the animal is frightened, which complicates things further for all involved.
Situations that have made the news include Firefighters rescuing horses from sinking sand or bogs, lifting injured animals out of wells, and helping animals who have become stuck in drains or places where they can’t easily be reached.
This doesn’t just involve ‘domestic’ animals – Firefighters genuinely never know what they’ll see on a callout! Pet snakes in the plumbing, cows getting entangled with tractors, foxes stuck in car wheels – it’s all in a days work! Again Firefighters will work with local services like vets and the RSPCA.
Depending on the location of your chosen FRS you may be involved in water rescues as part of your role. This is why certain FRS’ such as South Wales have swimming tests as part of their assessment process.
The Fire Service works in partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) to attend emergency situations and deliver joint water safety initiatives.
Community Events and Services
As part of your role you’ll also be expected to carry out in-home safety checks, and give advice to your local community through safety talks and presentations – whether these are in schools, community centres, or workplaces.
You might have to carry out risk assessments in public spaces, or give advice on smoke alarm fitting and maintenance, or emergency evacuation procedures.
Other community events you might be involved in include Open Days at the station, Taster or ‘Have a Go’ days, or seasonal events and fundraisers.
There’s also the option to undertake different roles and responsibilities as part of your FRS career path.
Aside from progressing to more managerial and strategic roles where you will spend more time in an office setting, you could also go down the path of training, or volunteering your time to help with community initiatives such as the Fire Cadets.