Gary Small photo
Gary, Safe and Well officer

So Gary what does your job as a Safe and Well officer involve?

My role is to carry out Safe and Well visits in and around Kent, we give fire safety advice to the residents, go over escape routes and try to reduce the risk of fires in their home. We can also install a variety of smoke alarms as well as give out special pieces of equipment to reduce the risk of fire and prevent harm. 

What do you enjoy most about working for Kent Fire and Rescue Service?

Every day and every home you go into is different. No one visit is the same. Going out seeing the customers and just seeing how they live, hearing their stories about their lives and pointing out fire safety advice is really rewarding. We have a really good team, supervisors, other officers and the call co coordinators who book the visits, are all so supportive of each other and help out where we can.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Normally the day starts by logging onto the computer and seeing what jobs you have that day, I read all previous history of the visits and call my first customer to give them a rough eta. We normally have between 4-6 Safe and Well visits a day, this can be booked visits or a drop in. I cover the Dartford, Gravesend, Swanley area of Kent but depending on where the work is you can travel all over. The visits can take between 30 minutes to an hour on average but every visit is different. Sometimes you are there longer or shorter depending on what you have to do. Once all the visits have been completed for the day I return back to station and complete the paperwork making sure I have covered everything that happened during the visit. This is also the time where you make additional phone calls or referrals.

How long have you been a part of the Safe and Well team?

I have been part of the Safe and Well team now for just over 4 years, I started in the office as a Call Coordinator back in 2017 and then became a Safe and Well officer in 2018.

How would you describe your team to someone thinking about applying for a role in the Safe and Well team?

I would describe our team as diverse. There are around 30 of us in total for the Safe and Well team but we all come from different working backgrounds and ways of life. If you have a question about anything there is probably someone in the team who has had experience in dealing with it! The role is lone working, but that does not mean you are by yourself. Yes you do the visits by yourself but the team are so supportive and you can ring any of them up and ask if you aren’t sure, or if you just want some advice over a fire related issue. You need to be able to think by yourself and you need to be a people person. The Safe and Well team are focused on giving the residents of Kent and Medway the best customer service and fire safety advice we can.

What do you feel has been your biggest challenge in your role?

Initially when I first became a Safe and Well officer it was a big challenge learning the ropes and understanding everything they do on a daily basis. Even though I knew what the officer’s did, actually doing it myself, was a big challenge. Customers still ask me a random question I haven’t heard of before, but a quick phone call to the team gets the answer. When I first went out by myself after I completed the training can also be a bit daunting, knowing I didn’t have anyone over my shoulder who could jump in when I wasn’t sure. But once I had completed a few Safe and Well visits by myself, I relaxed and it came more naturally to me.

What are you most proud of in your career at Kent Fire and Rescue?

I am quite proud that I work for Kent Fire and Rescue Service, but personally I think what I’m most proud of, is going to back to a visit where they have taken your advice and I can see a big difference. Whether it be hoarding or even when I’ve made a referral to get some extra help in the home for that resident. It’s always a proud moment to think that may not have happened if KFRS didn’t attend.