As we clock up seventy years of fire cover in Brixworth, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service invite you to be part of the next 70 years (June 2023)
Most people who become a firefighter want to make a difference in their local community and that’s no different to the on-call firefighters in Brixworth who commit to spending much of their spare time on-call and ready to respond to emergency incidents in and around the town.
Brixworth Fire Station opened in 1953 and has provided emergency cover to the town and surrounding area for 70 years. Many residents have served as on-call firefighters at the fire station, not only responding to emergencies but also attending community events and local activities delivering fire safety information, as well as welcoming visits from local groups.
Firefighters have a passion to protect and help their communities, carrying out the same emergency work that fulltime firefighters do. In Northamptonshire, on-call firefighters make up around 45% of the county’s operational staff and are essential in ensuring emergency cover right across the county.
Based at the station today are Watch Manager Martin Parsons, Crew Managers Edward Bibb and Paul Warren and Firefighters Lee Mayes, Jon Sharp, Richard Slinn, Jordan Tester and Carla Williams. Each on-call firefighter has a ‘day’ job but when on duty for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, respond to a pager when the alert sounds.
Here, some of the crew reveal their motivations for joining the Fire Service and explain how the Brixworth community can get involved.
Martin has been a firefighter for 16 years, joining after he left university. He initially worked in the Fire Service Control Room receiving 999 fire calls from members of the public. He remembers one incident that influenced his decision to become a frontline responder.
“I was talking to someone trapped in a house fire, talking her through what to do and where to go to stay safe as well as feeding vital information to the crew who were on their way to the incident,” Martin said. The phone cut off during the conversation and I had no idea what had happened to that woman.”
Martin spoke to the crew who attended the fire to find out whether he had done enough to help the casualty and the firefighters and then asked to join them on a few shifts to see for himself exactly what they do.
“It was brilliant. I was hooked,” Martin said. “I knew that this was the right route for me.”
About a year later, Martin was on a shift and had a visit from the woman he had been talking to at the house fire. She had spent much of the year in and out of hospital following the fire, but the advice Martin had given her over the phone and the information he had passed to the attending crew saved her from what could have been a fatal incident.
Firefighter Jon Sharp, who is a full-time paramedic, noticed the recruitment banner outside Brixworth Fire Station and made enquiries. After attending an information evening and visiting the station on drill night he decided to apply and has been with the Brixworth on-call crew for a year now.
Jon explains: “The selection process involved job-related tests, where I had to carry out activities that simulated things a firefighter might have to do as part of the role. There was also an interview and a fitness test. You need a certain level of fitness to do the job, so I started running and watched my diet to improve my chances of getting in.”
Community engagement is a key part of being a firefighter. “I really enjoyed lighting up the drill tower with pumpkins at Halloween and showing cubs and scouts around the fire appliance. I have carried out home fire safety visits in Brixworth and have represented NFRS at events in the county, including Diwali.” Jon added.
Also in the crew is Edward Bibb, who has been an on-call firefighter for more than eight years and has recently completed the full-time (whole-time) firefighter training, enabling him to serve the county as his full-time job. He continues to work as an on-call firefighter in Brixworth, saying that joining the fire service was: “one of the best things I have ever done.”
Edward attended a recruitment event at Brixworth Industrial Estate nine years ago, having previously spoken with a family friend who worked for the fire service to find out more about the role.
Edward would encourage anyone considering joining the service as an on-call firefighter to visit Brixworth fire station on drill night and chat to the crew. He said: “The recruitment process takes a while so be patient because it’s a great career to get into. No two incidents are the same and it’s not just fires. You can go to road traffic collisions, flooding and animal rescues too. You work as a team and build strong and trusted friendships that help us serve the community.”
Interested in joining?
The Brixworth crew are looking to recruit on-call firefighters to join them. If you are interested in finding out more, pop along to their drill night on a Monday evening between 7.00pm and 9.00pm for a chat. Or visit Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website www.northantsfire.gov.uk and click on ‘Careers’.
Martin offers some sound advice to anyone interested: “The commitment to become an on-call firefighter is a unique one and one that will likely impact family and friends too. Find out what that commitment looks like by attending have-a-go days and recruitment events and meet the Brixworth crew at the station. Once you have that understanding, speak to your friends and family about it. They will be the biggest supporters through your career in the fire service and it’s important that everyone understands the role.”