Volunteering to preserve the history of firefighting
Essex Fire Museum is doing a fantastic job preserving the history of firefighting in Essex and in large part that is thanks to the work carried out by the dedicated team of volunteers who play a vital role in running it.
The museum, which is based in Grays, not only received highly sought after Arts Council accreditation last month it has also had a record breaking year welcoming 4,452 people in 2015.
Museum collections officer Roger Pickett is helped at the museum by a dedicated team of eight volunteers who carry out a wide variety of task from showing visitors round, keeping exhibits spick and span, researching the history of Essex fire to scanning in tens of thousands of photographic negatives for prosperity.
Roger, a former fighter at Grays Fire Station, is clear that the museum could not run to the high standard it does without the help of volunteers.
"They offer a professional service and are respectable and knowledgeable individuals. I can rely on them 100% to deliver, no matter the task,” he said.
“Our team of volunteers are a mix of retired professionals – from a former murder squad detective inspector to an assistant head-teacher. Without them, the museum would not be able function the way it does. Our museum volunteers are the unsung heroes of our fire service.”
One of the volunteers joined to take part in an oral history project two years ago and enjoyed his experience so much he has stayed on after it came to an end. Mike Smith, a retired civil servant, gets to indulge a passion for history through his work at the museum.
He said: “I’ve always loved the fire service and its rich history, especially the history of firefighting during the Second World War. At the moment I am creating an archive of pictures. It’s truly a history of firefighting told through photos and is absolutely fascinating.”
Retired assistant head-teacher Mick Ford not only volunteers at the museum he has used what he has learned there as a springboard to publishing his own book. He said: “I enjoy my role at the Fire Museum. I am particularly proud to have helped with the memorials we created for firefighters who lost their lives in the First World War.”
Former murder squad detective David Hughes is using his eye for detail and forensic investigative skills to create a digital picture database from tens of thousands of old photographic negatives.
He said: “There are 47 books containing thousands and thousands of negatives and I am digitising all of them. It will create a valuable database and a pictorial history of the fire service in Essex.”
Essex Fire Museum is just one of the ways to get involved in volunteering with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. Anyone who has some spare time and would like to help make their community safer can make a real contribution through one of our volunteering schemes.
To find out more and apply to become a volunteer yourself visit our website at: http://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/Volunteering/.