Fancy becoming an on-call firefighter? South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting

Andy Hayter, group manager for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. Picture: Chris Etchells.
Andy Hayter, group manager for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. Picture: Chris Etchells.
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We all know the feeling - you get home after a long day at work and put your feet up.

There are few things finer but how many of us actually waste our spare time? Do we really make the most of our evenings and time away from the coalface?

Andy Hayter. Picture: Chris Etchells.

Andy Hayter. Picture: Chris Etchells.

One dedicated group certainly aren't wasting any time - South Yorkshire's on-call firefighter team.

Most of them work full-time but are on hand during their own time ready to respond to emergencies in their communities.

But they need help and have totally refreshed their recruitment process in the hope of providing round-the-clock cover at all of its six retained fire stations.

Andy Hayter, group manager at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the authority now ran a non-stop recruitment process rather than running campaigns over specific periods of time.

"We are encouraging people to take up an exciting job that makes a real difference to their community. It's rewarding in many ways and they are responding in their communities and more often than not it's where have been born and bred."

The scheme is open to anyone who lives or works within five minutes' drive of the service's six retained stations in Birley Moor, Askern, Dearne, Penistone, Rossington and Stocksbridge.

And Andy said SYFR had also changed the training process for the scheme to make it easier for people to get involved.

"What we found with the traditional recruitment approach was that it didn't fit the bill and neither did having people on a two or three week course at a training centre," he added.

"Many on-call firefighters have primary employers so having to have two or three weeks off to go on a training course put a lot of people off. We can't take the same approach with on-call firefighters as full-time."

Andy said being an on-call firefighter was "rewarding" but emphasised just how big a commitment was needed by those interested.

"It's not just about fires. We go to road traffic collisions, we go to water rescues - there are lots of different types of incidents that we go to," he said.

"It's a big commitment and we need to be clear on that. We need people who can be available for a significant amount of time either from home or from work.

"What we ask is that people identify times in the day that they are going to be available to respond to the fire station. People are providing with an alerter and when it goes off, they go off to the fire station and respond to the incident."

Those interested in the scheme need to live or work within a five-minute drive of any of the retained fire stations and will go through a "more flexible" recruitment process, which changed in November.

"People interested should present themselves at their fire station and have a conversation with the watch officer," Andy added.

"Part of that conversation is going to be about fitness as people's fitness needs to be of a reasonable standard but we're not expecting athletes."

Andy said applicants were also tested on their "situational judgement" and workplace and confined space testing as well as being interviewed.

"We want a diverse workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve. The fire service isn't just for men, we encourage applications from women and other underrepresented groups."

Firefighter Jake Connell is perhaps the prime example of how being an on-call firefighter can help personal development.

The 25-year-old started as an on-call firefighter four years ago when out of work but he now works for the fire service full-time providing support as part of the operational resource team.

He clocks up a total of 48-hours a week but, such is his dedication and love for the job, he is still an on-call firefighter at Askern station and is on hand, ready to respond for a further minimum of 63 hours a week.

All this comes on top of his family life - he is a dad-of-one with another addition to the family due in May.

"It does sound a lot but for eight or nine of those hours a day, you're in bed asleep," he said.

"I was out-of-work when I first joined as an on-call firefighter and I just love what I do.

"I saw it advertised and then one of the lads at the station used to live around corner from me so I put in for it and I passed all my tests and the recruitment course and before I knew it was on the station."

Jake encouraged anyone thinking of becoming an on-call firefighter to "go for it" and admitted he was the prime example of what opportunities the scheme can open up.

"My message would be to put 110 per cent in and it will be worth it once you are on the station," he said.

"I am making a career out of it now and you develop skills that you can use in everyday life."

For more information on the on-call firefighter scheme or if you would like to get involved visit www.syfire.gov.uk or call 0114 272 7202.