On-call firefighters join wholetime firefighters in Clacton
This year has marked the start of a new period for Clacton Fire Station.
Previously Clacton had two fire engines, both of which were crewed by wholetime firefighters - firefighters who work full-time shift patterns and are based at the fire station.
In June 2016, changes were agreed for Clacton’s second fire engine to be crewed by on-call firefighters - firefighters who are based in the local area and respond to a pager.
This model is known as mixed crewing and since the on-call team went live, they have attended over 93 incidents.
Station Manager of Clacton, Weeley and Frinton, Mark Wilby, explains how teams stepped up and worked together to make this a reality: “When you set out to do something like this, you can’t do it on your own.
“The approach has been one of inclusion and integration, and from day one our wholetime staff have been involved, and once the crews understood what we needed to achieve together, the work of recruiting a new on-call team began.”
With the help and support of wholetime firefighters at Clacton Fire Station, they began holding coffee mornings, information sessions and took an innovative approach by setting up areas on their fire station to show potential recruits the Breathing Apparatus (BA) sets, fire engines, as well as giving them a tour of the station.
Mark added: “Thanks to the efforts of our wholetime and recruitment teams, we received over 100 applications for the 16 on-call roles.
“Four of our successful candidates were previously Fire Cadets, so it has been great to see them grow into on-call firefighters.”
The new on-call firefighters began their training in May last year and during the training the crews, both wholetime and on-call, worked together and bonded as one big team.
Red Watch Manager Andy Marshall, who has been in the Service for 28 years said: “We needed to develop firefighters who were competent in the role, regardless of the crewing model, because when the bells go down we all need to have each other’s backs.”
On-Call Crew Manager Gary Clarke brings 12 years’ on-call experience to the team as well as working full time in the Performance and Data Team. Gary said: “The commitment our new recruits have shown is incredible and our thanks go to their primary employers who have allowed them the time to join us for training sessions with wholetime. The skills they have brought with them from their jobs have been invaluable.”
Lloyd Brinkley is one of the newest on-call recruits, and is ex-forces. Lloyd provides 24 hours cover Monday to Friday. He said: “I applied to become an on-call firefighter as I wanted to help my community, and living so near to the fire station, it made sense.
“It’s been a steep learning curve and has been great to ride alongside wholetime so they can show us the ropes.”
During the initial stages of mixed crewing at Clacton Fire Station a wholetime officer and driver will ride the same fire engine as the on-call firefighters until they are confident to ride independently in the months ahead.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved in these recent changes. As well as the effort from the crews at Clacton Fire Station, the success of the project could not have been achieved without the support of the wider community.