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Could you join Ashford's crew of on call firefighters?

Could you join Ashford's crew of on-call firefighters?

18 April 2018

David Blunt in his role as on-call firefighter
David Blunt in his role as on-call firefighter

Being an on-call firefighter is ‘a way of life’ for Ashford resident David Blunt and now he’s encouraging others to give it a go.

He said: “The idea of making a difference to my community and helping people in their times of need really appealed me. I have learnt so many useful skills, such as team work and first aid, that come in useful for other areas of my life.”

35-year-old David first became on-call firefighter at Charing Fire Station 16 years ago, after becoming inspired to do so by his former boss at local firm Hatch Engineering, who was also an on-call firefighter.

Following his employer’s example, David responded to call outs in the daytime from work.

The dad of two went on to move to Willesborough in Ashford, where he’s now lived with his family for 10 years – but the move didn’t stop him from fulfilling his role as an on-call firefighter. He has continued to fit the on-call work in around his day job as a raw material technologist for food factory, Premier Foods, responding to incidents that come into Ashford Fire Station. He commits to 45 hours each week on weekday evenings, when he is available to respond for Kent Fire and Rescue Service if needed, as well as a drill night once a week. And he generally keeps weekends free to spend with his wife and children, aged six and four months. David even finds time for his hobby, target shooting.

He has continued to fit the on-call work in around his day job as a raw material technologist for food factory, Premier Foods, responding to incidents that come into Ashford Fire Station. He commits to 45 hours each week on weekday evenings, when he is available to respond for Kent Fire and Rescue Service if needed, as well as a drill night once a week. And he generally keeps weekends free to spend with his wife and children, aged six and four months. David even finds time for his hobby, target shooting.

On-call firefighters are required to live or work within five minutes travelling time from a local on-call fire station and are paid to be available for an agreed number of hours. During that time they are able to carry on their normal life, but are paid to be available when an incident comes in.

The role is varied and on-call firefighters can be called out to incidents including rescuing people from burning buildings or crashed cars, scaling ladders, operating water hoses, dealing with chemical spills, responding to life-saving medical emergencies, helping an elderly person stay safe in their homes with important safety advice.

Both men and women from all kinds of background and walks of life can be firefighters. They must be at least 18-years-old with a good level of all round fitness. The hours KFRS offers are be based on what the local station needs to deal with the risk in that area.

David said: “My on-call hours suit both my lifestyle and the needs of the station, and I maintain a manageable work/life balance. Many people thinking that they won’t meet the fitness requirements to be a firefighter, but my advice is don’t let that put you off. Personally, I have a fairly active day job, I cycle to work and choose a healthy lifestyle and diet, so keeping up the fitness really isn’t a big issue.”

He added: “Being an on-call firefighter is both challenging and rewarding, with a lot of variety in the types of calls you can attend, so I would definitely encourage people who are considering it to give it a go.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting at selected fire stations across the county.

Find out more and apply online.

David Blunt carrying out his day job at Premier Foods
David Blunt carrying out his day job at Premier Foods
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