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Meet Richard, an On-Call Firefighter for Glossop

“I have been really impressed with how supportive the DFRS staff have been through the selection and training process.”

What made you want to become an On-Call Firefighter and join the DFRS team?

During the first COVID-19 outbreak my employer encouraged us to look for ways we could volunteer, or take on part time roles to assist with our local communities and said that they would support us in taking on those commitments. I saw a banner on the street outside the local fire station on one of my morning runs that was advertising for on-call Firefighters and started to look into what the role entailed. The role sounded like a great way to help the local community and that it would teach me a lot of skills that would be beneficial in my primary employment as well, so I went ahead and applied.

Tell us about your journey so far.

I applied for the On-Call Firefighter role online through the DFRS website. The process for the application system was quite well designed and easy to follow through. I would have liked to have attend an awareness day beforehand but unfortunately couldn’t due to the pandemic. However, when I attended my testing day the instructors there were very understanding and helpful, explaining each test in detail before we had to perform it, giving us the best change possible to pass. Given that not many of us could have attended open days, the instructors also took time to answer any questions we had and talk to us about what life as an On-Call Firefighter in DFRS is like.

Tell us about any other employment and how they support you in this role.

I currently work for BA CityFlyer, an airline within British Airways, which flies business passengers out of London City Airport. I am BA CityFlyer’s Powerplant Engineer, which means I am responsible for managing the engines of their 24 aircraft. I largely work remotely from Manchester but travel as required to oversee and assist with maintenance. The management team of BA CityFlyer are keen advocates of helping the community and of flexible working. They have been very accommodating with moving my working hours around and allowing me to take holiday in order to allow me to attend training with DFRS.

Are you On-Call from your place of work or home?

I am On-Call when I am at home so will typically be covering nights and weekends. When I am working from the Manchester office, or at one of our bases I am obviously too far away to attend a call out, however in the post COVID-19 world I am now able to work from home for several days a week where I could support a call out if needed.

Do you have any role models that inspired you to join the Service?

I didn’t know anyone within DFRS prior to joining but one of my colleagues from when I worked at Thomas Cook Airlines is a member of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. He balanced both his commitments at the maintenance hangar in Manchester Airport with his Fire Service training and call-outs and would often tell us about the things he helped out with in his local community.

What are you looking forward to most in training?

I am looking forward to the Breathing Apparatus course that is part of our On-Call Training. I have studied combustion theory for many years as part of my role managing aircraft engines and I am keen to see how it applies to more complex situations and to learn how our teams work to quickly and effectively extinguish fires. The course has a large practical element to it where you encounter fires within training structures that sounds exciting to experience first-hand.

Tell us what you’re looking forward to most after training and what you think will be most challenging?

I am looking forward to getting out in my community and the variety of different situations I will get to help with. I believe assisting with Trauma injuries will likely be the most challenging as actions we take could make a real difference to someone’s life. The Service does have processes in place to give us the support we need to help us deal with these events afterwards which gives me comfort that it will be possible.

Do you have relatives that work for the service?

I don’t have any immediate relatives that work for the Service, which is probably one of the reasons why it’s taken me so long to think about joining as an option. My experience of the culture of the Service is that it is very open though and even if you don’t already have relatives or close friends within DFRS you will be welcomed, and team members at your station will rally round to help you get through your training courses.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

A youth going to air shows with my father and being a member of Air Cadets led to a keen interest in aircraft that I followed after finishing school. I left the south east to study Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University and expected to join the RAF. However, after enjoying a project to design my own, admittedly terrible, jet engine my life and career took a new direction. Since then I have lived in South Wales, Yorkshire and Manchester for different roles in the commercial aviation industry before finally moving to Glossop with my wife and putting down roots a few years ago. Whilst I love my job it has left me with friends and family scattered all over the country and I am keen to get involved with the local community.

Tell us something unique about yourself.

In my free time I help an old friend and colleague race motorbikes by being a member of his pit crew.

selfie of martin in the peak district

Do you have any other hobbies?

I have been into white-water kayaking since I was a teenager and have been all over the UK and the south of France over the years tackling waterfalls and rapids. After moving up to Glossop my new neighbours dragged me out running with them up the hills of the Peak District after I lost a bet. I’ve not looked back though and have since joined a local running club and before the lockdown regularly took part in local fell races and have run a few different marathons.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your journey so far?

I have been really impressed with how supportive the DFRS staff have been through the selection and training process. Feedback has been constructive throughout and if I have needed some additional help or practice, instructors and regular Firefighters have been willing to give up their own time to help.