Burnham, Tollesbury, Tillingham and Maldon: our county's eastern fire stations
Burnham-on-Crouch, Tollesbury, Tillingham and Maldon: why Essex relies on our county's eastern fire stations
Karen Nicoll's 18-year career in the fire service has seen her move from wholetime firefighter to Crew Manager, Training Instructor, Community Builder and most recently to Station Manager, overseeing four on-call stations across the east of the county.
Karen's responsibility for Burnham-on-Crouch, Tillingham, Tollesbury and Maldon Fire Stations means that one of her main priorities is recruiting on-call firefighters - a role she sees as vital to our communities and Service.
"The skills an on-call firefighter develops makes them invaluable to everyone they meet," said Karen.
Each station has its own unique risks and opportunities, and it’s important to make sure there are enough on-call firefighters to staff each one to run a fire engine 24/7 at a moment’s notice - a process known as 'on the run'.
Burnham-on-Crouch and Tillingham are particular priorities, and the support of the community to staff the stations are vital to the whole county.
"Because of the local risks and road access, Burnham and Tillingahm are what we call, 'joint key stations' - they can never be ‘off the run’ at the same time, and if this happens then another crew is called in from another fire station. This can sometimes produce a domino effect - moving one crew could see cover adjusted around the county, so if Burnham was fully crewed, in turn it would help out the other parts of the county."
Around 75% of fire stations in Essex are on-call and see ordinary people with everyday lives and jobs commit to staying within five minutes of their local fire station for an agreed amount of time per week. They immediately make their way to become part of the crew if their pager goes off. They are paid for their standby hours, as well as any work they are called out for, and often do it alongside their day job.
"The commitment of being an on-call firefighter is rewarded with joining an excellent team and developing your own skills." said Karen. "There’s nothing stopping an on-call firefighter having a long healthy and developed career within the fire service - we’ve seen on-call firefighters stay with us for over 30 years and we simply couldn’t be without them."
Local businesses are also increasingly stepping up to play their part in supporting the community that they serve.
"By agreeing to release an employee to become an on-call firefighter during working hours, an employer will have the benefit of having a qualified firefighter working for them that has that knowledge and experience of fire safety and fire protection.” said Karen. “Each employer can come to a localised agreement of how time spent away from the business is calculated, but we continually hear from businesses that the positives far outweigh any negatives."
All four of Karen's stations; Burnham-on-Crouch, Tollesbury, Tillingham and Maldon, are currently recruiting for on-call firefighters.
"Ultimately, if a station isn’t able to make up a crew then that area lose fire cover for that period of time. That’s why we’re almost always recruiting - to ensure we have enough on-call firefighters to cover all times of the day, and step in to cover if someone is sick or on annual leave.
"From day one of registering your interest, whether it’s as an individual or a business, we’ll support you in getting all the information you need, and understanding the full commitment and requirement of the role as well as how to prepare for any tests.
"Supporting on-call firefighters, whether it’s by becoming one yourself or releasing your employees to provide cover, is the ultimate show of community spirit - without your support we simply could not deliver our mission of keeping Essex a safe place to live, work and travel."