Fire station property services officer

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Susan Monk looks after all the equipment at thirty-one fire stations, three office buildings and a number of houses belonging to the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service. The equipment can range from breathing apparatus to microwaves used in the staff canteens.

What do you do?

Apart from making sure all the equipment is available, I have to make sure that all the properties are properly maintained. I carry out regular site visits and inspections and organise any maintenance or building work needed. This involves meeting contractors and suppliers, checking progress of ongoing work on the computer system, as well as making and dealing with numerous telephone enquiries throughout the day.

What problems do you deal with?

We have our own team who deal with the day-to-day issues reported by stations, such as replacing defective light bulbs or fixing leaky taps. Larger projects, such as rewiring or re-roofing, are done by outside contractors selected from our approved list of suppliers.

I have to be ready for emergencies, too. Our priority is to get our fire fighters to incidents fast. Sometimes the doors get knocked or damaged by the fire appliances as they rush out of the station in the process. I have to organise the repair or replacement of equipment that is damaged or past its sell-by date.

How did you get into this type of work?

I left school at 16 and worked within the housing department at Derby City Council. I saw this job advertised in the local paper and felt it would be an interesting change of environment in a high profile organisation serving the community.

How did you adapt?

Although this job is about dealing with repairs and maintenance, my first six months were spent learning about the fire service and how it operates. I wasn't used to the uniformed environment and it took a few weeks to get used to all the different ranks and familiarise myself with all the different equipment.

What sort of training did you receive for your current role?

I've completed an Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) course and currently am doing another health and safety course. Since working here, I have obtained NVQ Level 3 in Building Maintenance and am now working towards Level 4.

What hours do you work?

I start at 8.30am and finish at 5.30pm, although I can be called out during the evening sometimes in an emergency.

Do you have to wear a uniform?

No, but I wear protective clothing such as safety shoes and a hard hat for some site visits. My clothes have got to be practical enough for any eventuality – from meeting contractors to clambering down a manhole to check a drain repair.

What do you like best about your job?

The variety! Something different happens every day. I also really enjoy working with the people within the brigade and dealing with all the different contractors and trades people I meet. It is also hugely fulfilling to be part of big projects, like organising the building of a new fire station.

What skills and qualities are needed for this type of work?

You have to be keen, hardworking and enthusiastic. It's important to be able to work without supervision and to have the confidence to ask questions when necessary.

Susan's route to her job as a fire station property services officer

  • GCSEs.
  • Institute of Occupational Safety and Health course.
  • NVQ Level 3 Building Maintenance.

Susan's tips

  • You have to be prepared to work hard and be flexible.
  • Be keen to learn, ask questions and always speak up if you haven't understood something.

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Salary information

  • Starting salary will be around £17,000, rising to £25,000 with experience.

Getting in

  • Some brigades may ask for GCSEs/S grades, including maths, English and a science-related subject.
  • Some experience or knowledge of repairs and maintenance work would prove useful.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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