We went along to Horncastle fire station on Foundary Street to meet some of the hardworking crew there.
On-call firefighters – people who hold down others jobs or roles but who offer their time to be on call to respond to emergencies in their free time – are a vital part of keeping any fire service operating, and there is a shortage of these remarkable men and women across the county.
Vitally, these on-call firefighters come from all walks of life and it is no longer a “boys club” – they are all ages, ethnicities, races, religions and all types of circumstances with one goal in common; to serve their community and save lives.
But there needs to be a minimum of four firefighters on a fire truck to make it operational, and when called to a house fire, a minimum of two fire engines are always needed so the need for firefighters is always there.
Julia Whitfield, Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue’s watch manager in charge of recruitment, said that the time of day when the service is most short of firefighters is Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, as this is when most people are obviously working fulltime.
"This is where there’s so much potential for people like stay-at-home parents to help out,” said fellow watch manager Kyle Campbell in charge of community & support, “They can drop their children off at school at 9am and then be available until 3am, so it doesn’t impact on their family life.
"But it could be anyone who can give up a certain amount of hours – self-employed people, lawyers, farmers, anyone.”
So what are the basic requirements to become an on-call firefighter?
You would need be 18 years old and over, to live or work within five minutes of your local fire station, and if your alert goes off in an emergency, you need to be able to get straight to the station and on the truck in full gear within that time.
"When our on-call firefighters are on that truck with us, they’re as much a part of the crew as our full-timers and that’s what we expect of them.”
To be an on-call firefighter, there is also the misconception that you need to be super-fit and while there is a degree of fitness and general degree of good health required, the service will support candidates through their physical tests.
Julia said: “We wouldn’t just throw out any candidates who didn’t pass the fitness tests, we’d support them and help them to see where they can improve.
"Fitness is always something that can change and be worked on, and if you were struggling to get through the physical tests, there are fitness trainers who could help you.”
The first steps to determining if becoming an on-call firefighter, the team said, is to visit your local fire station to gather information from the local crews, and also look for the drill nights which take place weekly at all fire stations.
Then you can come along to a ‘have a go’ day at the Waddington Training Centre in Bracebridge Heath to see what being a firefighter does and the required strength, fitness and aptitude needed to do the job.
You will be able to have a go at the tests required to become a firefighter – equipment carry, casualty evacuation, a confined space appreciation, a ladder lift, and a simulated hose run – as well as being able to speak to current serving firefighters.
The next ‘have a go’ day is on Saturday (January 28), and you can book a space on the course at https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/firefighter-recruitment/apply-call-firefighter
You can then fill in an application form on the Lincs Fire & Rescue website at https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/firefighter-recruitment/apply-call-firefighter and begin the recruitment process, which can take a few months as the service runs four recruitment courses per year.
"It is a tough job,” Kyle added, “And you need to be able to do the job, but there is so much support for our crew members in terms of counselling and fitness instructors, and our firefighters are people from all walks of life who are giving back to their community.”
Training and drill nights are held at the following locations and times:
Binbrook – Mondays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Boston – Mondays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Brant Broughton – Tuesdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Donington – Mondays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Horncastle – Thursdays 7pm to 9.30pm
Kirton – Thursdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Louth – Tuesdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Mablethorpe – Mondays 6.30pm to 9pm
Market Rasen – Mondays 6.30pm to 9pm
North Somercotes – Thursdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Skegness – Tuesdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Sleaford – Thursdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Woodhall Spa – Mondays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Wragby – Wednesdays 6.45pm to 9.15pm
Horncastle fire station is also hosting an open day on Saturday March 11, where guests will also be able to have a taste of what a career in the fire service involves.
Julia added: “Another way you can find out plenty of information is one of our free webinars where you can have a chat with our firefighters and find out plenty of helpful information.”
You can find out about the webinars and any other information about becoming an on-call firefighter at https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/firefighter-recruitment