Volunteers are special people, willing to share their time and passion to help others, simply because they care and want to make a difference.
Those inspirational individuals form an important part of Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), working alongside operational crews and office based teams to help keep communities across Kent and Medway safe.
KFRS is fortunate to have 34 volunteers supporting a range of roles, and now the service is looking to welcome more people interested in voluntary opportunities, to join the team.
Stuart Downs, KFRS’ Volunteer of the Year 2020, said “It’s a chance to give something back, to learn new skills and try new challenges. There’s a variety of volunteering opportunities at the fire service, and each role is just as important as the other. There’s something for everyone.”
He added: “I find volunteering very rewarding and it makes you feel like you’ve actually made a difference to somebody’s life. You’re supporting the wider community and pulling together to keep Kent and Medway safe.”
Stuart, who lives in Canterbury, has been a volunteer for almost five years and fits his responsibilities around the shifts required as part of his day job.
Volunteers are asked to commit a minimum of eight hours each month, which can be carried out on weekdays, weekends and evenings.
In 2020, KFRS volunteers gave 2,050 hours of their time delivering a range of duties across the county, including workshops and safety sessions with community groups, humanitarian work, research, promoting fire safety advice, and providing incident support.
Volunteers who undertake any activities are paid travel expenses from home, work or from the nearest fire station to them in the county, and are also given training and access to development seminars and opportunities.
Since joining, Stuart has become the first chair of the LGBT+ Role models and allies group, an Armed Forces Network Champion, and an advocate for equality and diversity.
He is also part of the KFRS Volunteer Response Team (VRT), which involves providing welfare and assistance for both firefighters and customers at the scene of an emergency. VRT members are existing volunteers within the service.
Stuart said: “Being a volunteer not only enables you to learn new skills, which you can take to your other jobs, but the fire service can also benefit from the diverse backgrounds and skillsets of the volunteers.
“We’re able to represent and reflect the range of communities within Kent.”
If you’re over 16 and interested in becoming a KFRS Volunteer, please take a look at the current roles we are recruiting for.