Skip to main content

We use cookies to ensure that you get the best experience whilst browsing our website. By continuing to use the Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service website, you agree to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings in your browser at any time.

Link to Search

Danielle Heathcote

Working Mum and On-Call Firefighter

It never feels like a job as it’s so rewarding. It fits perfectly around my family life and I have a boy who is proud of his mama and I hope that it will encourage him to follow his dreams.

I had always wanted to join the Fire service, but when I looked into joining when I was 17, I was too young. I made a decision to work in a quarry whilst studying at college instead, allowing me to become a self-employed beauty and sports massage therapist until I had my little boy when I was 27. Whilst he was little, I studied Accountancy, which allowed me to work from home and fit my work around child care.

Whilst on holiday with friends a few years later we were discussing what jobs we had always wanted to do and I mentioned that I had always wanted to be a firefighter. On returning from holiday I pulled up at the local petrol station (which is next to the fire station) and there was a sign advertising for on-call firefighters. I thought to myself ‘it’s now or never’!

I applied on line and got in touch with the station. I was invited to attend a drill night to find out a bit more about the role and about how on-call works. After going to the station and meeting everyone, I knew I wanted to be a firefighter more than ever.

I learnt so many new skills and I grew as a person. The training is intense and there is a lot to learn, but it’s all doable and enjoyable. When you reach the end of the course it’s an incredible feeling of achievement.

After my initial application I worked on my fitness to make sure I could pass the equipment carry and as I’m short (‘cough’ 5ft 1!) I worked on upper body strength to pass the ladder lift. This was definitely the toughest bit for me, as I was at full extension to get the bar passed the mark, but I’m proud to say I passed and then had to wait for the interview and medical. At each stage I got through that hunger to be a firefighter grew and I was worried that I wouldn’t make it as I wanted to so badly!

Thankfully, I passed everything and I eagerly awaited the start of the training course and kept pinching myself as I thought it was a dream - I still do now sometimes! The course was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learnt so many new skills and I grew as a person, (not in height I’m still short!) The training is intense and there is a lot to learn but it’s all doable and enjoyable. When you reach the end of the course it’s an incredible feeling of achievement.

Once I had passed out as a firefighter I eagerly awaited my first shout, which I didn’t have to wait long for, this came just 2 hours after I’d got home from my pass out parade! It was fantastic turning out on the truck and I still get that same excitement now every time we turn out, not knowing where or what we are going to and being there for the community I live in.

Two years on and I still have the absolute love for the job I did at the start. I have a whole new family in my crew and in Derbyshire Fire & Rescue and going to work is a pleasure. It never feels like a job as it is so rewarding. It fits perfectly around my family life and I have a boy who is proud of his mama and I hope that it will encourage him to follow his dreams.

Interested in becoming an On-Call Firefighter? Read more about the role here

collage of danielle in uniform, with son and with fire chief