When Jack Mooney was a boy, he used to watch the fire engines racing up to Dartford Heath, near where he grew up and dreamed of becoming a firefighter one day.
As Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) steps up its recruitment campaign for on-call firefighters, Jack describes how he managed to fulfil his dream and has never looked back.
Ash-cum-Ridley Crew Manager, Jack Mooney said: "After I left school I completed a public services course at the local college, in the hope that it would help me achieve my life-long ambition but KFRS wasn’t recruiting, so I followed the majority of the men in my family into my uncle’s panel beating business in Horton Kirby."
In 2009 Jack saw that KFRS was recruiting on-call firefighters at his local fire station and with his uncle's encouragement, he applied.
“My uncle appreciated how vital the role of on-call firefighter was to the safety of people and property in our local community. He was very supportive and allowed me to respond from his car bodyshop. It meant if my pager went off, I could be across the road, in the station and rolling out the doors on the fire engine within the five minute turnout time.”
28 year-old Jack joined KFRS as an on-call firefighter in March 2009 and since then has learned many new skills including first aid, firefighting and driving a fire engine to name a few. He’s now crew manager at his local station, Ash-cum-Ridley.
He added: “We never know what the next call will be to, we don’t just fight fires, there’s a wide range of situations including road crashes, chemical spills, flooding and responding to medical emergencies.
“We have to be ready to cope with whatever comes our way and able to rush off at a moment’s notice. But, it’s a fantastic feeling and I still get the same adrenaline rush that I did when I first joined, knowing that someone needs your help and that your actions can and do make a difference.”
Jack now works for a major Knightsbridge retailer as a fire safety officer and provides on-call fire cover around this. The transferrable skills he’s gained as a firefighter made this possible. His main job involves making sure that electrical systems are safe, firefighting equipment is well maintained and that staff are trained in fire prevention and evacuation drills. He also carries out risk assessments, something firefighters do at every incident they attend.
“Before I joined I didn’t appreciate how much of the job was about encouraging a safe community to prevent fires and emergencies happening. But I really enjoy that side of my job too and am the local point of contact for the scout groups in the area, I attend the parish council meetings and work with local community groups to make sure they have the right advice to help stay safe.”
Jack clearly loves his job and has even encouraged his partner, who works in architecture for a home building company to apply.
He ended: “If you like the idea of doing something different and worthwhile and working as part of a team, it could be just the job for you.
"Have a look at the on call firefighter webpage, there’s lots of information and you can also listen to people who are currently on-call firefighters answer some frequently answered questions about the role.