Men and women encouraged to sign up as on-call firefighters

Men and women across the county have been asked to roll up their sleeves and join a team in the heart of their community.

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service has launched a recruitment drive for on-call firefighters.

Station manager in Thame Andy Ford said it was a ‘fantastic’ initiative for people to give back something to the communities that they love and are a part of.

He added: “On-call firefighters are a vital part of the fire service.

“They know the community well and can get there quickly and obviously time is extremely precious for us as we need to be at incidents as soon as possible.

“On-call firefighters are residents who go about their everyday life until they are alerted to an emergency incident in their area.

“They have five minutes to get to their local fire station and will then respond as a professional firefighter.”

All of Oxfordshire’s fire stations have on-call teams that make up 60 per cent of the county’s operational fire and rescue service, with 18 out of 24 stations crewed solely by on-call firefighters.

The fire service aims to recruit 40 more on-call firefighters by the end of the year. There are currently about 300.

Volunteers will be paid and can earn between £5,000 and £9,000 per year and can have access to the firefighter pension scheme.

Mr Ford added: “All our on-call firefighters receive the same training as our full time crew.”

Training costs for full time firefighters is around £7,000.

Paul Bremble, group manager at the fire service, said: “We have fantastic crews of on-call firefighters spread across Oxfordshire but as a number of them are moving on we’re looking for more people to join the teams that are protecting their local community.

“There is no typical firefighter and we employ men and women from all walks of life.

“We ask for a minimum commitment of 40 hours on-call per week which sounds a lot but on average you are called out two to three times per week for an hour at a time. The hours are different to suit the needs of the station and individual circumstances, so the role can be flexible for individual needs.”

Volunteers must be 18 and work within close proximity of their local fire station.

Dave Etheridge OBE, chief fire officer in Oxfordshire, added: “On-call firefighters are the backbone of our organisation, providing a fantastic public service.

“I started my career as an on-call firefighter in Abingdon and the thing I loved was not only the sense of adventure, or being at the heart of my local community, but being part of a really good team and the comradery we shared.

“People really noticed a positive difference in me after joining the fire and rescue service and I’d encourage anyone considering applying to do so.”

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