Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Buzz of excitement: Life as an on-call firefighter at West Mersea

"When your alerter goes off, no matter what time it is or what you're doing, you get that buzz of excitement because you just don’t know what’s about to happen next,” said Darren Allen, on-call firefighter at West Mersea Fire Station. "That’s not really like anything I’ve experienced anywhere else.”

Having lived on Mersea Island since he was a child, Darren decided to take the plunge at 43 and become an on-call firefighter and give back to the community that he had grown up in.

Darren started his basic training in 2017 – with a goal of starting out in a new, exciting career.

“For me it was inspiring because even though I wasn’t the youngest person in the group, I could still do everything I needed to.

“It can be challenging at times, because you need to be committed to what you’re doing and the people that are around you - whether that’s in training or at real incidents.

“Even from the very beginning it was clear that teamwork is a huge part of firefighting and that’s something that comes naturally to me.”

“I’ve played football in the past, I work for Royal Mail which is team-based and now here on station – it’s all about working together and supporting each other.”

Two years on, he is a key part of a fire crew that respond to emergencies across the island of Mersea and sometimes throughout other parts of Essex, too.

“I find it really rewarding being there for people when they need us - whether they’re my family and friends or even just people that live in the same area as me. Of course, we’re doing more and more prevention work to help them stay safe in the first place, too.

“I live around the corner from the station and I’m often first there. You know that you could potentially be about to save someone’s life and there’s nothing quite like that feeling…”

West Mersea Fire Station is on Barfield Road, and if you can get there within five minutes from home or work, you could be an on-call firefighter.

On-call firefighters are paid for the time they are on-call and earn additional money each time they are called out to an incident.

To find out more information about becoming an on-call firefighter at West Mersea visit


Last updated: 29 May 2019


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