Brechin bid to recruit new fire crew members

Pictured are firefighters from Brechin Fire Station who were present at their training session on Monday evening.
Pictured are firefighters from Brechin Fire Station who were present at their training session on Monday evening.

An open day will be held on Saturday, November 12 as part of a recruitment drive at Brechin Fire Station.

The station in Brechin, led by self-employed plumber and watch manager Bryan Cuthill, has a complement of twenty personnel, working the retained duty system.

Retained fire fighters are trained to use the same equipment as their whole time colleagues. Pictured are a trio from Brechin Fire Station during on of their weekly training session help on a Monday evening.

Retained fire fighters are trained to use the same equipment as their whole time colleagues. Pictured are a trio from Brechin Fire Station during on of their weekly training session help on a Monday evening.

However, the station is currently about four fire fighters below establishment so it is hoped to fill these vacancies.

Although, if there was enough suitable candidates there could be the opportunity to recruit more than four new fire fighters.

Retained fire fighters are paid volunteers who do the same job as whole-time fire fighters.

The difference is that they are not based in a fire station waiting for an alarm. Instead, they are on stand-by, carrying a pager, waiting to be called out.

This may mean that they are at home, working for themselves, or employed by a company that supports the work of the community fire station.

Regardless of what they are doing, retained fire fighters must drop what they are doing immediately when an emergency call is received.

Many retained fire fighters are in full-time employment, with the agreement from their employers to leave work to attend an emergency call.

Other retained fire fighters commit time after work or on their days off.

Currently on the role at Brechin fire station are plumbers, joiners, painter and decorators, Matrix employees and airport fire fighters.

Presently there are no females on the role, something that the station would like to address.

To be a retained fire fighter you need to be at least 18-years-old with a certain level of fitness and live and/or work close to the fire station.

Shifts are flexible, with fire fighters indicating when they unavailable to be on call and working on average about five hours a week.

No experience is necessary as full training will be given – to the same level as whole time colleagues.

Retained fire fighters receive: a basic annual payment (a retainer) and fees for emergency response; fees for training sessions and for duties like equipment maintenance; pension system.

When responding to an emergency retained fire fighters will use the same vehicles and equipment as they whole-time colleagues and will respond to the same range of incidents at any time day or night.

Being a fire fighter does not just involve responding to emergencies, as fire fighters also undertake community fire and safety events, such as school visits or home safety visits.

Derek Thomson, district liaison manager for Brechin, Forfar and Kirriemuir explains: “Within Tayside Fire and Rescue we have a lot of employers who support us, and their community, by allowing their workers to leave work to attend a call.

“Employers get a good benefit out of it as well. It is a two-way street. We are training fire fighters a skill which can be transferred back into the workplace.

“For example, 96% of retained fire fighters in the area are trained in first aid, a skill which can be taken back to the workplace.

“No matter what background you come from there will be some skills that you will already have.”

Watch manager Bryan Cuthill became a fire fighter having worked alongside retained fire fighters who worked in the building trade.

“When I started plumbing as an apprentice I was working with journeymen who were also fire fighters.

“I got speaking to them and saw them running away when the alarms went off and I thought it was interesting.

“You never know when you will be called out. One minute you can be going about your day and the next minute a call comes through.

“When I go to houses now a lot of people do not realise what we do. Hopefully the open day - which is open to everyone - will give people the chance to find out about us and what we are about.”

The appliances used at Brechin are the same appliances that would be used in Dundee supplied with the same equipment.

Stephen Ferguson who works at Petrofac, Montrose, has been working as a retained fire fighter for six years.

“The best bit of the job is the satisfaction of helping the community. There is a good morale in the station.

“The training was good. You do a two-week course initially, where you train with people from all over Tayside.”

For 13 years Kevin Jamieson has worked as fire fighter, whilst also working as a self employed joiner.

“Most people would manage to be a fire fighter and I would recommend it to them. You never know what you are going to turn up to. It can be a good adrenaline buzz when you attend a call.

“You do exactly the same job as whole time fire fighters, something that many people do not realise.”

Scott Keir, who has been a retained fire fighter of 22 years said: “When I started there was not so much specialist equipment but there is training every Monday so we get kept up-to-date with changes.

“You need a fair bit of fitness, a bit of discipline, need to be keen, and want to do something for the community. The job can be quite demanding at times, but it is rewarding.”

Anyone interested in joining Tayside Fire and Rescue should attend the open day or contact Brechin fire station on drill night which takes place between 7 pm and 9 pm on Monday evenings (call 01356 622931).

The open day, on Saturday, November 12 from 11 am to 2 pm at Brechin Fire Station, allows interested parties, whether they are interested in becoming a retained fire fighter or would like more information on the benefits for employers, the chance to find out more about the service as well as having the opportunity to test themselves against the fitness test (take your trainers), a requirement as part of the recruitment process, as well as being shown a confined space.

Training of new recruits would not take place until April or May 2012, giving candidates, who may be concerned about passing the fitness test, time to increase their fitness levels.

Further information is also available from Community Safety Headquarters, Tayside Fire and Rescue, Macalpine Road, Dundee, DD3 8SA tel: 01382 825295 or visit www.taysidefire.gov.uk.

For an application pack write to the chief Fire Officer, Tayside Fire and Rescue, headquarters, Blackness Road, Dundee, DD1 5PA or email enquiries@taysidefire.gov.uk.