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Being there for Burnham: on-call firefighting duo share their stories

Ever wanted to be a firefighter and protect your local community?

The excitement and camaraderie associated with being a firefighter is like no other job.

James Boothby and Sam Baker, both 28, have been protecting the community of Burnham-on-Crouch at a moment’s notice for a combined four years.

Their circumstances are very different: James is a Burnham local, who grew up in the town – while Sam’s job brings him to the area during working hours.

Both lead very different lives, but are united by a passion for being there for Burnham as part of a close-knit group of firefighters.

James said: “I’ve lived here since I was 8. I went to school here, did engineering at college and then went to work full-time at a local restaurant, where I’ve worked ever since.

“Because Burnham is such a small area and a close community, everyone knows everyone. People know who you are and what you do, so there’s a certain level of respect that you get.

“It’s inevitable that you’re going to be going to incidents involving places and people you know and there are a lot of people who I deal with in my other job – customers of the restaurant – who recognise me.”

James joined the Service in 2016 and has since provided cover for most days and evenings, with the support of his other employer.

“My work is really good with accommodating my life as an on-call firefighter. A lot of the time, when I’m not literally cooking food, they let me go and be available.

“I really feel like I’m giving back to the community and I genuinely enjoy it.”

Sam provides cover during working hours on week days – making him a vital part of the Burnham crew, despite the fact he actually lives in Benfleet.

“I actually live a 40 minute drive away from the station, but because I’m in Burnham when I’m on-call anyway, it means I don’t have to worry about other commitments or arrangements.

“It’s genuinely everything I thought it would be when I signed up – in terms of the excitement. When your pager goes off, that’s the feeling you get.”

“Of course, fires are very serious so we don’t want them to happen… but when they do, it’s a great feeling being there for people to help them out.”

Both James and Sam point to the unity of their group as one of the best things about their role – and how the crew’s relationship goes well beyond firefighting.

“We all trust each other – 100%,” James said. “If you don’t and you have doubts about someone behind you, you can’t be nearly as effective – so team work’s a massive part of what we do.

“As a group we often go to events and meals out. I go out with these guys more than I do with any of my friends from school or work.”

Want to join the group and be a community hero?If you live in Burnham, like James, or work in Burnham, like Sam – you can! Al l you need to be is over 18 and physically fit.

Find out more at essex-fire.gov.uk/burnham

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