At home behind the wheel of a fire engine
If you live in or around Larkfield, don’t be surprised if you see on-call firefighter, 27 year-old Leanne Beeston driving a fire engine to an emergency incident.
“I love it” says Leanne, “It was always something I wanted to do and learning to drive the fire engine was one of my biggest challenges since joining KFRS over five years ago. When I tell people what I do, they’re always surprised but my dad was a firefighter and his stories were really interesting. Most kids want to be a firefighter and I was no different.
“I’ve been asked countless times what it’s like being a female firefighter and I can honestly say it’s never been a problem, I’m part of a team, it’s not a male/female thing and I’ve never been treated differently. Initially I thought people might be a bit softer on me but fortunately no one has; I’ve never wanted or expected special treatment.
“My advice to other women thinking about joining is it’s a great job, you’ll be accepted and it can and does fit around other commitments and family. I go to the gym and run but I’m not a fanatic. Wearing breathing apparatus and lugging hose in all the kit is hard work but you don’t have to be superwoman and I think that’s what surprises people about me.”
By day, Leanne teaches, but most evenings she provides firefighting cover at Larkfield fire station. Leanne says the first aid qualification gained at KFRS has been invaluable, giving her the confidence and skills to be able to deal with a wide range of medical emergencies from anxiety or panic attacks to breaks and strains. Health and safety is also something she now teaches having learned it at KFRS.
When asked what her family and friends think about her being an on-call firefighter and driving a fire engine, Leanne says “Awesome, they’re really proud of me and amazed that I juggle two very different jobs successfully.“Being on-call can be frustrating at times because you don’t get called out as much as you expect. But then we have really busy weeks when we’re called out several times a night. Fortunately it doesn’t happen that often and I’ve only been late to my day job once because of attending a shout at KFRS, but my employers have always been very supportive. They realise what a valuable job it is and also see the benefits of having an employee who is an on-call firefighter.”
By contrast, Jack Edwards is the newest on-call recruit to join Larkfield fire station. He’s been with KFRS for four months but says it’s a dream job and wants to encourage others to consider joining.
25 year-old Jack lives in Larkfield with his fiancé and works nights in retail. He offers daytime cover to KFRS between 8am and 5pm. Jack said: “I know exactly what I’ll be doing in my retail job each night and much of my work is done alone. Being an on-call firefighter is very different you never know what’s going to happen next or who will need your help. It’s great being part of a big, supportive team.”
“It’s a real perk being able to respond from home, not the fire station. It means I carry on my life as normal, spending time at home with my fiancé. I can go to the gym, the shops, the café etc., but when my alerter goes off, I have to get to the fire station on New Hythe Lane within five minutes.”
Jack says customer focus is really important in his retail job and is really looking forward to using those skills when he gets involved with KFRS’ Safe and Well visits, where he’ll be helping residents who are most vulnerable to the risk of fire stay safe and independent in their own homes.
All kinds of people can be on-call firefighters, why not get in touch to find out how you could join one of the UK’s leading fire and rescue services?
To apply you’ll need to:
· Be at least 18 years old - but there’s no upper age limit
· Have a good level of all round fitness
· Work or live within five minutes travelling time of an on-call fire station
· Be available at the times when the local station needs cover
It’s a great job that makes a real difference to your local community. Find out more here.
Jack Edwards and Leanne Beeston