Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Good luck to our latest Fire and Rescue Service recruits

I was lucky enough to welcome the 12 newest Fire and Rescue recruits to the service this week. They came to a session here at County Hall as part of their training to learn more about the County Council and I spoke to them about the role of Members, how the council works and how the Fire and Rescue Service plays a key role as part of the County Council.

The session was at the beginning of their 14 week training, which starts to enable them to become a West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service firefighter. The training is challenging and demanding, as you would expect. All recruits are well supported by experienced trainers throughout the course. Speaking to those who have completed the training they have found it immensely rewarding as well as having a great sense of achievement at the end.

Although we are training these newest recruits, we do need more retained firefighters for our Fire and Rescue Service. Retained firefighters form a vital part of the service and are mainly based in our more rural areas. These crew members perform the same duties as full-time firefighters and receive training. They are on call through bleepers when needed.

We have been running a recruitment campaign to encourage people who would like to become retained firefighters to come forward and on Saturday I visited Selsey Fire Station, where they held an open day. I have to say, there is always a warm welcome at our fire stations and it was good to talk to the crew members and go around and look at the excellently maintained equipment and learn how it is used.

It is all so interesting, and every time I learn something new. This was exactly the case on Saturday when I was introduced to a very special item the firefighters use. Volunteers hand-knit teddy bears for the fire crews to use when helping children in trauma situations. It is a perfect way to build up a rapport with a distressed child and is another example of the breadth of work our firefighters undertake. They are dealing with people in frightening situations, helping them is crucial to their work.

Our new recruits will learn many skills as they go through their training. When they have completed this, many will undertake further training to develop additional often specialist skills in order to meet the demands of keeping our residents safe.

Training will continue throughout their time with the service as new equipment and techniques come forward. Some firefighters may undertake very specialised training sometime in their future career. One example of this is our Technical Rescue Unit which is made up of a team of experts with specialist skills that can be called out to help across the county. This team has also supported national and international resilience and has a key role in the UK’s International Search and Rescue Team.

Just as important is the preventative work undertaken by the service, particularly with vulnerable members of our communities. This includes fitting smoke alarms, community fire links (radio-linked smoke alarms for vulnerable residents) and home safety visits.

If you would be interested in becoming a retained firefighter, you can find out more on the website, email: firejobs@westsussex.gov.uk or phone: 01243 642134.
 
Best wishes,
Louise

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