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If you have always wanted to be a firefighter, read on…

KFRS is looking to recruit on-call firefighters to support its full-time station-based staff

Are you one of those people who, when growing up, always thought you would like to be a firefighter but, somehow, the opportunity passed you by?

Well, it might not be too late to try. Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is seeking people to become on-call firefighters. It’s a bit like the lifeboat people, I guess, you have to live near the station and be in a job where you can drop everything at a moment’s notice to attend a ‘shout’.

The community is at the heart of KFRS and on-call firefighters help to strengthen those links by serving the villages and towns where they live and work. 

For example, Luke Pritchard is an on-call firefighter based in Faversham, where he lives with his wife and their two young children. Having grown up in the town, the 35-year-old wanted to be a firefighter at his local fire station from a young age and successfully applied for the role four years ago. 

He said: “It’s a job I’ve always admired. I was one of those kids who waved at the fire engine as it went by, and now I’m the one in the fire engine. It’s an amazing feeling. 

“It’s really rewarding when you go to a job where somebody is having a really bad day, and you can do something to make it a bit better. It’s nice to give something back to the community and be out there keeping people safe.” 

Luke is able to provide day and evening cover for KFRS, thanks to the support of his employer at MME Engineering, which is a short drive from the fire station. 

To be an on-call firefighter, crew members need to live or work within five minutes of an on-call fire station. Another requirement is to carry a pager when on duty, which sounds when crews are needed to make their way to station to attend an incident.

Luke, who is a foreman at the metal foundry, said: “I’m fortunate my employer is really supportive of me being an on-call firefighter. There’s been times when I’ve had to run out in the middle of a meeting, but my employer understands it is part of the job. 

“He sees it as a way of helping the community, which is important for him as a local business owner. The company also benefits from the skills I’ve gained in the fire service, such as being qualified in first aid and being more aware of fire safety.” 

Luke has the support of his wife, Rebecca, and their family, including 12-year-old daughter, Macie, and nine-year-old Connor (pictured with their dad), who have embraced his additional responsibilities. 

Luke said: “We have just factored it in around our lives. We can be half way through watching a film and I have to run out, and the kids say ‘see you later, daddy,’ they love it. 

“I’m really proud to set a good example for the children. It’s something I’ve always aspired to be and it shows them they can be whatever they want to be when they’re older. Even if you have a young family, it’s definitely something that is doable. It’s very flexible and you can work it around your family life, or your work life. It’s a lot easier than people might think.” 

As well inspiring his children, Luke hopes to encourage others to consider the role. 

He said: “To be an on-call firefighter, you need to be committed, as there’s a lot of training involved, and you need to be a good team member, as well as being professional and compassionate. 

“It really is a rewarding job. You never know what you’re going to, you never stop learning, and you’re part of a great team.”

On-call firefighters are expected to undertake and attend training at least once per week, and be available for at least 50 hours a week. They receive an annual wage to reflect the time they commit to being available, plus additional payments for certain activities. 

There are vacancies available right now at various stations across the county. The list of stations includes:

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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