Will carries a pager in case he gets a call out while working at Waitrose
There is no such thing as a typical working day for Paddock Wood supermarket employee, Will Owen.
One moment, the 30-year-old team leader is stocking the fresh produce aisles of Waitrose, the next his pocket alerter goes off and he is rushing to the nearby fire station, where he leaps aboard a fire engine to go help someone in need.
Will has been an on-call firefighter in Paddock Wood for 5 years, a role fully supported by his managers at Waitrose, where he has worked since the age of sixteen.
Will said: “I’d always wanted to work for a public service and have a role based in my local community, so having the opportunity to become an on-call firefighter really appealed to me. My employers at Waitrose have been right behind me and very accommodating, allowing me to respond while at work, to provide the fire station with much needed daytime cover.
“If I get a fire call at work, I make up the hours when I can. Allowing this level of flexibility has meant that I can continue to make a positive difference to my community.”
Suzie Hammond, Deputy Branch Manager at Waitrose, Paddock Wood, said: “Being part of the communities we serve is incredibly important to us and Will is really putting this into practice.”
Normally, on-call firefighters respond to two or three incidents a week, and although it is difficult to say how long they may have to be out on a call as it depends on the incident, most crews are back at their stations within an hour.
For the last five years, Will has worked at the supermarket for 35 hours a week and committed to 50 contracted hours for Kent Fire and Rescue Service, as well as providing additional evening and weekend shifts to help keep the fire engine operational in the town.
Will has attended numerous road traffic collisions where Paddock Wood has been the first on the scene, and a wide range of other incidents, including outdoor fires, chimney fires and co-responding emergencies in support of South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb).
During their training, on-call firefighters learn many different skills, such as team work and problem solving, which benefit their main employer too.
Will said: “Much of the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained over my time as an on-call firefighter comes in very useful in my day job. For example, I am first aider at our shop due to the excellent training I have received, and my team work skills are also relevant to my role there.”
“When I do get a fire call, I honestly feel I have done something really worthwhile with my day and I would urge anyone looking for a fresh challenge to look in to becoming an on-call firefighter too.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is looking all kinds of people to join their teams of on-call firefighters. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have a good level of all-round fitness.
Find out which stations are recruiting and apply online.
On-call firefighter Will Owen ready to help his community