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Hi I'm Zoe, a wholetime Firefighter recruit

“it was like a light bulb moment for me, and I instantly realised this is the career I wanted to pursue”

What made you want to become a Firefighter and join the DFRS team?

My dad has been a Firefighter for as long as I can remember, and he is a massive inspiration to me. I'm a really caring person and have always wanted to help people, and be in a career I was proud of, where I could give something back to the community whilst still getting a buzz from doing it!

Becoming a Firefighter ticked all of those boxes for me.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a trainee.

The first time I applied in 2018, I didn’t know I wanted to apply until the recruitment was already active, so I didn’t get chance to attend any awareness days beforehand; but I didn’t have anything to lose and I applied anyway! Unfortunately I was unsuccessful, but that didn't put me off and instead it made me want it even more!

In between 2018 and this year, when I applied again, I attended multiple awareness days, applied for On-Call (which got postponed due to being successful in Wholetime), volunteered at the UKRO (United Kingdom Rescue Organisation) finals in September 2019 at the Joint Training Centre in Ripley, attended zoom awareness meetings over COVID, and also changed my job to gain some more life experience in the meantime.

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

My dad is a massive inspiration to me; but what originally made me realise that being a Firefighter is about much more than being a strong man, and ultimately that it was a career I definitely wanted to do, was a positive action video made in 2018 by a female Firefighter called Ceri Gray

When I came across the video, it was like a light bulb moment for me, and I instantly realised this is the career I wanted to pursue. For years I had seen my dad be a Firefighter, and although it was something I was massively interested in, I had never thought it'd be something I could do, even to the point where I never talked to my dad about wanting to do the role!

I see her (Ceri) as a massive role model as she shows other females like me that it is not just a man’s job!

What are you looking forward to most in training?

I am really looking forward to it all, but if I had to choose one thing, it would be the breathing apparatus training. I really enjoy practical activities and although it will be a challenge, I think I will get a real buzz from doing it and will find it a really fun experience.

Tell us what you’re looking forward to most, and what you think will be most challenging, when you’re a qualified wholetime Firefighter.

Without sounding like a cliché or being too cheesy, I am looking forward to getting on station and being able to help people and make a positive impact on someone’s life; whether that be through prevention work, making places safer before any incidents occur, or if the worst happens and there is in an incident, being able to empathise with people and help them through it. I also think that this may be one of the main challenges as well due to it being very emotional.

zoe with her father on training ground in uniform in front of 2 fire appliances

Do you have relatives that work for the Service? How have they supported you in your journey so far?

My dad is in DFRS as a Watch Manager in Chesterfield, he has been a Firefighter all my life.

He has been my rock! 

He is a massive inspiration to me and was ultimately the one who sent me the Ceri Gray video to make me believe I can do anything I want in life. He has supported me in every way he can, and even attended the UKRO volunteering with me to help me gain a greater understanding of some aspects of the role. I owe my dad so much and can’t thank him enough for everything he does for me.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I enjoy watching motorbike racing such as the British Superbikes and MotoGP. I also bought my first home last year with my boyfriend, so am in the process of renovating.

I also adopted a German Shepherd puppy earlier in the year, so love taking her out.