Hats off to Shropshire's new firefighter recruits

Firefighters who put out fires and carry out car crash rescues in Shropshire have successfully cut the number of emergencies they attend by more than a third in almost a decade, said the county’s Chief Fire Officer.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service had been “very successful” in its main role to prevent emergency incidents happening through successful public education campaigns working with the help of other organisations, John Redmond told the latest firefighter recruits at their “passing out” ceremony at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury last night. (Monday, November 17th)

The number of emergency calls were down by 35 per cent from 5,607 in the 12 months from 2004 to 2005 to 3,618 in 2013/14. Over the same time, accidental fires fell by 18 per cent from 280 to 230 meaning 50 fewer Shropshire households were now “suffering the nightmare” of a fire in their home each year, said Mr Redmond.

Firefighters run a number of campaigns through the year to educate householders, schoolchildren, farmers and business owners in fire safety including the need to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, sweep chimneys, avoid open chip pans and kitchen safety among other lifesaving fire safety messages. They also work with partner organisations including councils and housing associations.

A total of 25 new recruits who had successfully completed intensive initial training at Telford’s firefighter training centre had “key” qualities including the ability to keep going “when it gets tough” and the physical courage to complete the demands put upon them, he said.

“You have now not only become a member of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service but also a member of a select group of people from your local fire station who are held in high esteem by the people in your local communities.”

A further ten firefighters also received awards for completing their full development programme training. They all join 300 “on call” firefighters providing emergency cover at 22 fire stations across the county while employed in other jobs.

From a retired male prison officer from Market Drayton to a woman working as a skin specialist on the Clarins desk in Shrewsbury’s House of Fraser store, the new recruits come from all walks of Shropshire life.

Printer and plumber, joiner and gym instructor, shop manager and supermarket worker, they also include those who have jobs in financial services, an RAF contractor and the owner of a building company.

Sally Barnett is already an acting crew manager at Market Drayton fire station after first joining the brigade nine years ago answering 999 calls at Shrewsbury fire HQ. Sally passed the tough physical tests along with her colleagues to become a firefighter despite breaking her back in a riding accident a number of years ago. She later raised more than £2,000 with weekly walks up The Wrekin wearing full firefighting kit in aid of the Firefighter’s Charity which helped her recover.

Local Shropshire employers including modular buildings manufacturer Elements of Europe, Enterprise Whitchurch, Write Here, Barchester Health Care and Richard Burbidge Ltd, were thanked for supporting the brigade by allowing the new recruits to leave work at a moments notice to answer a fire call.

The Chief Fire Officer also praised the support for firefighters from their families and friends who were a “vital” element in the delivery of a fire service in Shropshire.

“The support you provide ranges from the tolerance of broken sleep, putting up with the endless stories of Fire Service life, organising your lives around one person’s availability for fire cover and the many other impositions you put up with. 

“Can I take this opportunity on behalf of the Service to thank you and the families of all our staff for your support and tolerance.  You are a vital element in allowing us to deliver the service.”

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Pete White Pete White

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