“You can be carving up a Sunday roast, then 30 minutes later you’re cutting someone out of a car.”
Those were the impassioned words of community on-call fire fighter Matt Freeman, as he and other Slaithwaite fire crew members talked about the fast-paced nature of the job.
West Yorkshire Fire Service are currently recruiting new on-call firefighters, and searching for people with flexible routines willing to take a step up the ladder.
I visited Slaithwaite fire station to be shown the ropes of what it takes to be part of the crew.
Spraying hoses, scaling buildings and wearing the 7kg oxygen pack are all part of the training and they showed me everything.
John Arey, who is a Police Community Support Officer for his primary employment, said there was no feeling like saving a life.
“It’s a very humbling experience”, he said.
“At the time you don’t think much of it because it’s just part of the job.”
It takes just seven to 13 weeks to train the on-call firefighters, but the men and women need the same skillset as the full-time crew members.
The crew have been called to extremely varied scenarios over the years, from cows trapped on roofs to toes stuck in taps.
Station Commander Matt Green said: “The main thing about this job is it will change your life forever. Everyone should consider it.”
The crew said they were especially eager for more women and ethnic minorities to get involved.
Matt said: “People shouldn’t be put off thinking you need to be incredibly fit or that it’s a male-dominated job.
“We want as many people as possible to show their interest.”
That said, the job is certainly not for the squeamish or claustrophobic.
The fire helmets and oxygen packs are heavy, and sliding down that pole is not as easy as it looks.
Our fire crews are also taking on more jobs to help stretched ambulance crews, and advanced medical training is part of the new regime.
Firefighters who join the service now are trained in dealing with heart attacks and using defibrillators.
It was clear from listening to the crew’s stories and experiencing the basic skills that our fire services do more than just hose down buildings.
The crew are all family men living locally with their own jobs, yet risk their lives to save those of others.
The service are currently looking to recruit people living in Meltham and Holmfirth.
To register your interest in attending a taster session, visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/careers and complete the online form.
The taster sessions are as follows:
- West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters: Tuesday, January 26, 10am - 1pm and 6pm - 9pm, Sunday, January 31, 2pm – 5pm;
- Huddersfield Fire Station (For Meltham, Holmfirth and Slaithwaite fire stations) - Saturday,February 6,10am - 1pm;
- Halifax Fire Station (For Mytholmroyd Fire Station) - Saturday,February 6, 3pm - 6pm; Featherstone Fire Station - Saturday, January 30, 2pm - 5pm;
- Otley Fire Station - Sunday, February 7, 2pm – 5pm.