Firefighter Keegan Johnson is a dispenser in a pharmacy and also an on-call firefighter in Stansted. A role they’re paid to do to help protect their community.
Never one to shy away from helping people, 21-year-old Keegan joined us to make a difference in people’s lives and joined us in 2021.
Keegan said: “I want to help people. I’ve always been the one to run towards the danger instead of away, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing knowing that I could make a positive difference in someone’s life. I will always strive to help in anyway I can and being a firefighter has truly changed my perspective on life for the better.”
Living and working in the community has given Keegan the opportunity to meet lots of different people in Stansted from all walks of life. “I am constantly meeting new faces every job I go to and I will never tire at the chance to meet someone new,” says Keegan.
Keegan hopes to become a role model for diverse communities and to inspire young people after joining the Service at 19.
“I didn’t have a lot of role models from a diverse background so I’d like to help kids now get a chance to have one,” says Keegan.
Their favourite part of the role so far has been the new-found family in Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
“I find that each new person I speak to I learn something I didn’t know before and expanding my own knowledge through them,“ says Keegan. “I have created strong bonds with people in the Service that I most likely would not have met and through that I feel as though I have gained a family.”
Our on-call firefighters are competent firefighters who instead of being based at the fire station full time, they stay within 5 minutes of the fire station and respond when they’re paged to an incident.
They receive a wide variety of training to help them prepare for all types of incidents from fires, water rescues and chemical incidents.
Keegan’s favourite part of their training has been the Breathing Apparatus training. Our firefighters wear Breathing Apparatus to help them breathe in smokey environments. Each kit weighs around 20kg and is worn on top of full fire gear.
“There is nothing that beats the adrenaline of putting on a set and going headfirst into the action,” says Keegan.
“While I enjoy almost every aspect of the job, wearing BA will always be my top favourite thing to do. The training course was not easy but that makes you feel all the better once you pass. Whether it be in training or on a call, nothing will beat the feeling when your OIC says to get that set on and ready to go.”
Lots of the incident Keegan goes to are house fires and their advice to help you stay safe at home is:
“Always make sure that your smoke alarms are working in your home, they are there to save your life and should you ever need them you want to be able to rely on them notifying you of danger that you might not even know is there! Just a quick test once a will give you the reassurance that they are primed and ready to go. So if you look after your smoke alarms they will look after you!”
And if you’re looking to become an on-call firefighter like Keegan, their advice is to go for it and don’t give up if you don’t get in first time.
“You can’t give up or give in when it comes to applying, training and even when you’re on the run. It took me three tries to pass my fitness test and even though it was hard and I wanted to give up at times I just reminded myself why I was joining in the first place. So each time I failed I got back up and tried again, give it your all and keep pushing forward!
“Once you make that first enquiry and take your first step towards becoming a firefighter you now have an army of people at your back who are rooting for you and your crew will always be there to support you throughout your entire career.
“So if you thinking of joining Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, remember that you have to believe in yourself. You can do this so don’t give up!”
If you live or work within 5 minutes of an on-call fire station, you could be paid to protect your community like Keegan.
Find out more about the role at join.essex-fire.gov.uk/on-call