Female firefighter

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Lindsey Jones is a firefighter who combines her role with work as a community safety officer. As such, she does more than wait for fires to break out. She is actively involved in community education to prevent fires starting in the first place.

What is involved in your job?

Whilst on shift I have to be prepared, along with my crew, to tackle emergency service calls. These will range from false alarms through to serious fires involving buildings, property and people. We never know what we are going to find and have to be fully equipped for every call out.

This is the reactive part of the job but it is important to realise that we don't just sit around waiting for fires to happen. Modern firefighters are just as involved in the proactive part of the job – preventing fires from happening.

How do you do this?

Acting as community safety officers helps. Using our fire engines, we travel around offering home fire safety checks and liaising with other organisations to educate the public in ways of preventing fires. We like to emphasise that an outbreak of fire could represent a failure on our part.

What happens if there is an emergency while you are doing this?

We travel with all our equipment and can immediately be contacted by radio and computer and directed to any incident. We have all the equipment on board and may sometimes be nearer to the call than if we were at the fire station.

What equipment do you use?

All fire appliances are equipped with fire fighting equipment such as extending ladders and hose pipes. We also carry breathing apparatus for use if we have to enter burning buildings. Specialist cutting equipment is also available for entry into locked areas and for extracting people trapped in crashed vehicles. We are all trained to use this equipment.

How did you get into this job?

I did temporary work after university before applying to my local fire authority. After passing the initial selection process, which involved physical, written and role-related tests, I went on a 13 week intensive training course. I was then attached to an active station for on-the-job training.

What hours do you work?

Normally we work a 48-hour week but this is spread over a shift pattern which consists of two days of eight hours each and two of 16 hours which includes nights.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the non-routine way the shift develops. Every day is different and we do not know what to expect until it happens. We have very regular tasks such as checking all the equipment at a moment's notice by an emergency. It can be very exciting.

What are your long term career goals?

I have only been in the job for a year so I haven't really started thinking about that. There is a clear promotion route to the top job but at the moment I am enjoying what I am doing.

What are the skills and qualities needed for a firefighter?

To be observant, show initiative, have an enquiring mind, be courageous yet calm and be physically fit.

Lindsey's route to becoming a firefighter

  • GCSEs.
  • A Levels.
  • Firefighter training.

Lindsey's tips

  • Be sure to take up and continue the career path that you have chosen.
  • Work hard and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Salary of a firefighter

  • On starting, a local authority firefighter earns £18,000 rising to £23,175 when competence is achieved.
  • Crew managers can earn between £23,790 and £24,816.

Becoming a firefighter

  • There are far more applicants than vacancies and a minimum standard of secondary school education is essential, such as five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) passes, including maths, English and a science-related subject.
  • You will have to undergo a medical examination and fitness tests.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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