"We're not volunteers" - life on-call at Wickford: Trevor's story
“I don’t think people fully understand what our job entails; they think we’re volunteers who go to the station, attend an incident and then just go home again,” said Trevor Cox, Watch Manager at Wickford Fire Station.
Trevor joined Wickford’s on-call fire station more than 23 years ago and carries out his Watch Manager role alongside his day job at a local funeral directors.
Three-quarters of Essex Fire Stations are on-call; meaning rather than having firefighters in the station 24/7 they go about their daily lives, so long as they stay within five minutes of the station, and respond to a pager as and when they are needed.
They also take part in weekly training, spend time in the community and attend a range of other events.
Although on-call firefighters are paid for the time they say they are available and the times they are called out, Trevor credits the satisfaction of the job to much more than the money.
"The knowledge you gain, giving something back to the community and helping people in their time of need, you don’t realise what a pillar of the community you are until you realise people recognise and remember you."
During his time as a firefighter, Trevor has not only seen his own career progress but also seen his son and son-in-law join Wickford Fire Station’s team too; a crew which is made up of on-call firefighters with a range of day jobs.
"We have a variety of skills from our other roles, which benefit the station because it means when we go to an incident there’s a lot of external knowledge – whether it’s a builder who’s thinking about inspections during a house fire or a mechanic who knows the finer details of an engine when we’re attending a collision, it’s a big help to the crew and they all bring something to the job,” said Trevor.
Likewise, transferable skills Trevor has learned as a firefighter have benefited his day job.
"I’m a health and safety advisor at the funeral directors and my employer is grateful for the skills I’ve got from working at ECFRS; you gain a wealth of knowledge and wherever you work you can take it with you.”
"Being an on-call firefighter is a big commitment, not just from you but from your family too, but if you can make it work then it can be a very long and happy career.”
Do you spend your days or nights within five minutes of an on-call fire station? We’re recruiting on-call firefighters all over Essex.
For more information visit join.essex-fire.gov.uk
Last updated: 5 July 2019