A day in the life of blue watch Great Yarmouth

When Blue Watch Yarmouth asked us if we wanted to go and spend a day with them, see what the watch get up to on a day to day basis and catch up with their new recruit from the latest recruitment course, which passed out in May 2019, we jumped at the chance!

We thought you would all like a chance to see what happens when crews aren’t at fires and also when they are!

The day started with daily checks, a morning briefing, important notices and the plan for the day.  This was a great chance for us to catch up with Amy, while she was busy checking equipment.  She’s settled in nicely and is really enjoying putting into practical terms, the stuff she learnt on the 12 week recruitment course.

Amy said ‘’ I am thoroughly enjoying my time as a firefighter, although it presents its challenges and there is a lot to learn even after training school it is extremely enjoyable. Every day is different and it’s great to be out in the community helping people. Blue watch have been very welcoming and really show their enthusiasm to teach me things which are station specific. I am very grateful to have such a supportive watch.’’

Watch Manager Miller said “It is great that Amy has joined Blue Watch here at Great Yarmouth. Although quite nervous to begin with, Amy has settled in well with the other firefighters and has rapidly become one of the team. She has an excellent work ethic and I have no doubt she will become a very skilled and knowledgeable firefighter with a long career ahead of her.

With the briefing for the day done, the crew got ready to begin a combination drill, the drill allowed the Crew & Watch manager to test particular members of staff on skills they needed practice in, but the whole watch also used it as a refresher.  It was already heating up on the drill yard and those ladders aren’t light!  So the crew were constantly reminded to make sure they were taking on enough liquid.  The drill tested pitching the different ladders in a variety of places and using the underground pit to lift and supply water to the pump on the appliance which fed a hose reel jet. This hose reel was used by a breathing apparatus team that entered the training building which was filled with synthetic smoke to practice search procedures in zero visibility for a training dummy.  It brought up a small issue with the pumping of the appliance, which meant it could get checked and reported if necessary before it was needed for real!

After a quick tea break it was back into the yard for ALP (aerial ladder platform) familiarisation for Amy, although Amy isn’t trained in operating the ALP yet, the crew are making sure she is familiar with the controls and procedures. She will be trained for a support crew role. This will enable her to assist in sighting the vehicle correctly, how to use the stretcher it carries, supplying water to the monitor and also walking down the rescue ladder which can be up to 30 metres high.  It was only when the ALP had got to full height that the inevitable happened and we heard that familiar noise, the turnout bell sounded, which is loud enough to be heard over the noise of all the equipment running. (There was an incident and one pump was needed for a small fire in the open.  The crew quickly got themselves ready and out and we were reminded just how skilled the job of driver is as they negotiated a reasonably busy sea front, travelling as quick as they could, but always safely.

On arrival the well-oiled crew quickly extinguished the flames and large smoke plume but spent time meticulously raking the pile to ensure there was no burning embers that would reignite.

Back for a spot of lunch (and everybody was eating very healthily we noticed!) While eating there was a bit of time for catching up with each other, what they’ve been up to, how the families are and dare I say it, what’s been going on, on Love Island!

We were straight back on the pump and off to a walk round visit of a local premises, to ensure the crew and in particular Amy, as the new person, were familiar with the risks posed if there’s a fire at the property – where the hydrants are etc. The Britannia Pier has a horizontal dry riser running alongside the length of the pier. This is similar to what is installed in most high rise buildings. The firefighters can connect a water supply to one end and then connect their hose to any of the outlets along it’s length. This saves running out lots of hose, but it is regularly inspected to ensure it is properly maintained.  Nothing was left to chance and meticulous notes were made by Amy to ensure that our files are up to date and the crew understand what to do if an incident occurs.

At this point the crew were about to undertake some PT (physical training) a run down the sea front, we’re sure they were glad of the ocean breeze as it’d been a hot busy day, we thought we’d leave them to it, as no one wants pics hot and sweaty! 

Such a busy, productive day and with so much of it geared to ensuring their new recruit is constantly training and improving their skills, it was great to see such a skilled and happy crew and to see Amy fitting in so nicely!

We hope to revisit them in a few months, to see how much Amy has progressed, in the mean time enjoy the pics.


Paul gives us the lowdown on on-call

Long time no speak!

Paul by NightSince the last time I wrote on my Blog, there has been an awful lot happen, firstly I worked through my Gateways 1 & 2 assessments which are the brigades version of an NVQ or in NFRS terms, “becoming a competent firefighter” This involves reading through lectures and slides to learn all the operational orders and procedures and understand them, to ensure that when push comes to shove we have that specific piece of information in the back of our mind ready to put into action. We also have to attend a one day assessment for each of the two Gateways, which involves a practical assessment on Ladders, safe working at height and RTC. There is also a written assessment on all of the above, and although now being competent, I hasten to add its like when you first pass your driving test – now you really begin to learn what its all about!

So I have now lost the probationer diamonds off my helmet, but there is still so very much to learn from the lads on my station, the officers and other station crews. Like all emergency services we are constantly being monitored and assessed to ensure we are progressing, learning and honing our skills and knowledge. This ensures that should a situation arise that requires a certain procedure like evaluating the inside of a burning building for signs of structural failure.

I have also started driving and I am booked to do my LGV drivers course and test very soon, once that’s passed I am then required to drive for around 40 hours before I can go on the EFAD Course which is the Blue light course and advance driving, this I am informed is an amazing course and one I am very much looking forward too.They love him really

Since August I’ve been doing the most amazing, thing! I’ve been temporary on Red Watch, Great Yarmouth as a wholetime firefighter, what an opportunity! I applied with the attitude of nothing ventured, nothing gained and was so chuffed when I got accepted. The Watch have made me so welcome and I’m learning so much from them and have new ideas that I will be able to take back to my retained crew. The temporary position is until the end of July 2019 so I’m making the most of every minute and enjoying something that I never thought would be possible for me, even if it is only temporary!

Since last speaking to you all, we as a Brigade, as I’m sure you are all aware have had a very busy summer, with an unprecedented amount of field fires and forest type fires due to the very hot and dry summer we have had. The retained and whole time stations were all running flat out day and night to ensure that these fires were extinguished as quickly as possible to save the Farmers crops and wildlife wherever we could. The Brigade has not had a spell like this for some considerable time and it just brought to a head just how important the job is.

I have also since last writing been approached by the Home Office to be part of a national awareness media campaign to highlight and raise awareness for the Emergency services and their recruitment drives, this as you may or may not be aware particularly important as we are in Urgent need of more Retained Fire Fighters. I am not sure if you guys are aware but we do get paid for what we do in the Retained Service, we are employed by NFRS/Norfolk County Council and have to abide by all the same rules as the Wholetime Staff, we are trained the same and have the same skill sets, the differences are we don’t have to stay on station and obviously this allows us to carry out normal everyday jobs and careers, so we kind of get the best of both worlds!!

Paul enjoying a NYE party at his house (off duty!!!) with some of the Stratton crewSo what I would say is, if you are interested in becoming a Retained Fire Fighter, and you need to know what to do next please request a call back from one of our experienced crew members and they will be able to give you all the advice and information required to get yourself started on the process.

I shall write again once I have passed my Driving and keep you up to speed with my progress in the Service, Thanks for reading and I hope that this gives some help to those of you who are interested in the Brigade and those who would like to go one step further and become a part of a very special emergency service.

If you are interested in becoming an on call (retained firefighter you can click here to find out more and request a call back, someone will ring you back and have a chat about it, how it could work for you…just one phone call could change your life!


Meet Elise…

Firstly Hi!

A little bit about me and the background to my story;

I am a tenacious, hardworking mum to three girls aged 13, 10 and 5 and currently working for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service as a retained Firefighter in North Walsham and wholetime Fire Fighter on a temporary contract at Great Yarmouth, Blue Watch.

Before my journey began in 2012, to encapsulate my working life since leaving school, it has been varied! Seeing me work in office-based roles, working in the hospitality and catering industry which I enjoyed but I never felt I had “achieved” job satisfaction.

Elise on her fire engineI first considered becoming a Firefighter after talking to my father in law who had served for many years in Norfolk, listening to his stories intrigued me and excited my taste for being part of a team, being physically active and working in a dynamic workplace.

Elise and her partner AndrewMy partner Andrew encouraged and supported me to act on this interest, soon after making initial contact with my local station, I meet the crew sat the necessarily written exams and had a medical and fitness test. I attended drill nights and was given a date for my two-week induction. Those two weeks were both physically and mentally challenging, I was hooked!

It was everything I had ever wanted; the people I met were great and very supportive. It was a wonderful moment passing with those I had worked so closely with.

Once back from training school things took an unexpected turn for me. I found out I was pregnant and so 6 weeks in I went on light duties, never the one to let this be a setback I used the time to study and gain knowledge, oh and not to forget I perfected my tea making skills!  The months passed quickly and super keen to get back work after the birth I worked hard on my fitness.

Over the next few years, I got stuck in, passing my Breathing Apparatus Initial, Gateways 1 and 2, EFAD (Emergency Fire Appliance Driving) and became a competent Firefighter. I gave a good amount of time to the station alongside working in a café and managing children at school, my family and friends were at hand for those times when shouts clashed with the school and nursery pickups, I was gaining experience and confidence with every job.

Last year I had the opportunity to work within another part of the Fire service, The Youth development team, as an assistant team leader for a new group in North Walsham. This was a temporary contract until the end of the course through unfortunately there were issues with the numbers meaning I moved to another role.

Now in the Community safety team, I was out doing Home Fire Risk Checks in people’s homes, I absolutely loved being part of their team, it gave me satisfaction being able to help, giving guidance and advice, meeting people from all walks of life, sometimes visiting an elderly person who did not get to see anyone for a while.

In July I was successful with an application to become a Retained Support Officer, this involved me travelling to stations that needed help with cover, it was very busy with the hot weather, dry spells and field fires. I got to meet and work with others from different stations. I had my under-pinning knowledge and was deemed as competent but mixing with other Firefighters I was learning new skills and ways other crews did things. Then in September, I got asked would I move to Great Yarmouth station to temporarily work on Blue watch. It is just amazing, my crewmates are like family now in such a short time, I have been accepted and welcomed into the team; I can rely on them for support and encouragement. I feel ambitious and excited about what I am learning from their years of knowledge.

The shift patterns are also great to run alongside the children and my partner who works as a Paramedic, the 4 on 4 off means I have quality family time. I have had ups and downs over the years but it has been good for my personal development, when the next wholetime recruitment comes around, I will apply and hope to secure this position with a permanent contract.

My girls asked me what I have been writing and I explained about this blog.  My children individually said what they thought and how they would like to do something like me. My eldest said they want to be brave, a role model, help people and that I have taught them about safety – to be aware and ways to react in different situations, I felt very proud and I think they are proud of me too.

I would encourage others to have a go, we all have different skills, attributes which can be put to many different uses, so think positive and push for what you want to achieve.


Summer is over…

What a busy summer it was for all of us! There was so many field, woodland and even house fires!

I was tipped to the Horsford fire as relief a little while ago and at first it was hard to locate where the fire was, but the heat all around was intense. I used the thermal imaging camera and was able to locate all of the different hot pockets (some as high as 300°c)!

The fire was both a peat fire and a forest fire and was on such a large scale we had to section the area into 4 pieces and have teams firefighting in each area. We used the 70s connected to 45mm hoses.

In past blogs I’ve told you about the hose reel jets, the hoses we used this time are much larger and can carry a higher quantity of water at just as high a pressure. It takes two people to operate from these hoses. One to control the branch and the other to provide support for the pressure of water which is released.

This was the largest scale fire I have attended and I’ve been in the service for just over a year and a half! It was exciting for me but it devastated the area we were in. Please make sure you report a fire as quickly as you can so we can catch it before it spreads!

I’ve also attended a few fires in the open which can range from out of control bonfires to field fires started through careless discarding of cigarettes.

Although I absolutely love to get shouts, I would like to take the opportunity to remind you all that  your actions can and do have an impact. Please remember firespread is so easy so stay safe, be careful with any type of flame and if you see a fire call us!



and it’s a bye from Dec…

Tissues at the ready ladies & gents it’s our last EVER installment from Dec, we just want to thank him for being our “guinea pig” and letting us try out this blogging lark on him, what a star!
Hi, it’s time for me to post my last blog, at least for a while. It will give a few more people the chance to tell their story so you can see someone else’s perspective on what it’s like to be an on-call fire fighter, but it’s sad times, I’m glad to have been the first ever blog for Norfolk Fire.
I have passed the practical and written parts of my first major assessment. I worked really hard to make sure I was ready to pass. My crew came in at the weekends to help me prepare. It all paid off. After a long 2 hour exam and a day of tests in the drill yard I passed. It looks at all the basics of being a firefighter putting up ladders, running out hoses, cutting up cars. It’s very thorough but it needs to be.
I will have another test in about a year or so before I am a competent firefighter but I’m really pleased with my pass!!!
We had Charlotte from KLFM (our local radio station,) come down to record some things for their emergency services week. She took a few pictures and interviewed our newest recruit Mel I think she felt sorry for him as at the ripe old age of 52 he’s just finished his 2 week induction course. He’s a trooper though and has been a mechanic forever so will bring a lot of skills with him.
Since I have joined we have had 3 more recruits join at Kings Lynn which means that I spend some of my time working with them which I really enjoy. It’s nice to be given the responsibility of teaching. It’s also like I’m paying back some of the support I’ve had from the other crew members by passing on some of the knowledge I have.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing my story. There’ll be a newbie soon that will take my place… 🚒🚒🚒

Declan's retained induction course
Declan’s retained induction course

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Paul’s journey to competent

Last time we heard from Paul, he told us what made him become a firefighter, his story continues telling us all about the process…Paul Passing Out at Bowthorpe

And so it begins, it all starts with an interview with your watch manager, if that goes well and he feels you can commit the time required to be an effective addition to the station, with regards to availability, then  you move to having a fire fighter fitness assessment , this entails carrying 70mm hose, up and down the drill yard as well as hard suction hose, the hard suction strainer (all items of equipment used when drawing water from an open water source) and there Is also lots of running up and down the yard, there is dragging a dummy around, and all in all,  a very physical fitness test, as you would expect as you are trying out for without doubt the best emergency service on the planet.  Anyways, if you manage to make it through the assessment, the next phase is your one day assessment session at the Bowthorpe training centre, this involves climbing ladders, a taster of BA to see how you respond in tight spaces when in high temperatures and very hot in full PPE, and pushed under some pressure through what is known as the Rat run, this is a maze of approximately 1m cubed cages which narrow down in different ways and require a calm and composed approach to make it through in your full PPE and BA set, make this and you have broken the back of it.

Then you are booked in for a medical which is vision, fitness, health and hearing, this is where the first time I applied I failed, I was absolutely devastated as I had a small hearing issue, buy hey rules are rules, I have to say I straight away went back to HR and asked if there was any options to help me get through the hearing test, we had a chat and I then went to a high street hearing aid supplier and they advised me extremely well and I bought some very small in ear hearing aids, I had to wait almost a year before I was able to re-apply as once I didn’t make it, the position was filled by the next in line, after just over a year another position became available, and so unfortunately if it goes over a year you have to go through the whole process again!! Ahh well its good character building!  So this time I suggested doing the hearing test first just so that I didn’t get all the way through it all and then fail at the last hurdle??, this time I passed the hearing and then went through the whole process again, it helps the second time round as you know what is coming.

After getting through all of that process, you then have the initial two week course, this is what it’s all about, being a fire fighter, this is where the action starts, I feel that the training you are put through is nothing short of amazing, the new skills you learn and the professional and disciplined way the training staff teach you to deal with all situations when taking on new and at times dangerous challenges, you are able due to the top training tackle it all with total confidence, this is being a Norfolk Fire and Rescue Fire Fighter, you are now part of a very big, very skilful very courageous family, and no matter what station you belong to, no matter if you are retained or whole time, everyone looks out for everyone and we all have each other’s back despite a little inter station banter.

I am now two years in and fully competent, I have since passed my Trauma care course, BA course and am not far off starting to drive, I have a top crew at Long Stratton and am looking forward to at least another 10 years in the brigade, I shall keep you all up to speed on my career over the next few months as seen through the eyes of a slightly more mature Fire fighter.



Chloe sends a timely warning about the Welney Wash


These past few weeks Outwell station has been very busy. We’ve attended a number of calls ranging from RTC to building fires!

My first major building fire was certainly an eye-opener into how much team-work is necessary in this job. We were at the incident for around 6 hours, and the entire time I was working with not only my crew, but also many others. It was hard work as there was allot of hose running that night. I also got to get hands on with some more specialist equipment such as the TIC (Thermal Imaging Camera) which lets us see where the fire is located, how hot it is in the area and essentially provides an insight into the invisible… Heat is impossible to see with the naked eye and when I was using the TIC, although the fire was located in certain places, the heat throughout the building was tremendous.



On this incident the ALP (Aerial Ladder Platform) attended, this is a piece of equipment I have not worked with before and I found it fascinating. I was putting nearly all of my fire ground skills to work which I have learned not only from my induction course, but also from drill nights. Eventually our crew was relieved. When we were tipped out it was pitch black, and as we left the scene the sun was rising! This incident was a true eye opener into how critical team work is, as well as just how much advanced equipment we have as a service.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far as a firefighter. There is never a dull moment as you are always learning, whether it’s new techniques for rescues, alternative uses for pieces of equipment, or even learning more about equipment that you haven’t worked with before, there’s always some-thing new.

As a female firefighter I have never felt like the ‘odd-one-out’. I am always treated equally and that is what I love about this job. I can get just as many opportunities and hands on as everybody else does. I’ve always thought it is important to encourage more women to join the service it is such a rewarding career. So when I was given the opportunity to take part in a photo shoot to do that I jumped at the chance. Elle and Harry came to Outwell to take some pictures of me at work and we had the best time. The new pictures will be used in adverts across the county soon, I can’t wait to see them.

welney wash

For those of you that don’t know Outwell is only a stone’s throw from Welney. This time of year the A1101 at Welney wash can get flooded. Because of all the rain it’s been flooded off and on for the last month. The diversion is pretty far so people try their luck at getting through the road. We have been there 3 times and other crews have been there another 3 times to get people out of their cars that are stuck. It’s been a good experience for me to deal with water rescue and see some of the specialist kit we have. But not so good for those stuck in the wash waiting for us! Please, please never drive through this flood water or any, it’s dangerous – can wreck your car and could be the last thing you do!




The Worley diaries

It’s time for a new blogger! Meet Paul, he’s 50 years young (his words not ours! 🤣) He’s only been retained for 2 years and wants to share his journey, what it’s like joining the Fire Service at 48!

01 December 2017

Paul WorleyHi everybody, my name is Paul, I am 50 years young, run my own flooring business with my wife Debbie and I am a retained firefighter based in Long Stratton, The number 1 retained station in Norfolk (Inter station banter)

When I was a younger lad I always had a vision of being a fireman, but I am not going to lie to you, I am vertically challenged, I am 5`3” tall, so back in the day you had to be 6` to make it into the Brigade, so that was that!!  Anyways I carried on through life became a carpet fitter and floor layer and then at the age of 28 and just a few months after the birth of my first son Josh, my wife Debbie and I started our own commercial flooring business, and to be fair we have never looked back. Debbie and I have been running the company for 21 years and we currently have around 8 or 9 guys working for us at any one time.

We live very close to Long Stratton and since moving here around 11 years ago I have made some very good friends after getting involved in some community functions and positions, I have for the last three years been involved in the youth football teams for the Long Stratton Football Club, I initially got involved as my youngest son Jayden started playing for the under 11s, which at the time was run by a guy called Ricky Braddon, Ricky is a whole time firefighter and is also retained at Long Stratton, another parent involved in the football club and who was running the under 8s at the time was Kevin Flaxman, he too is a whole time fire fighter and also the watch manager at Long Stratton.  These guys as well as all the guys in our station have become very good friends and as a group we do lots of things together, such as Mountain biking, road cycling, football, Tough Mudder (along with all the lads from the Long Stratton 1st football team) running and we always find time for a bit of a social occasion, always mindful of the importance of keeping a pump on the run!

Let me tell you how I first got started on my road to becoming a firefighter, whilst helping out at a football training session, Rick and Kev asked, after talking about their jobs as fire fighters, if I was interested in becoming a retained FF with Long Stratton, not knowing to too much about it they told me what was involved, and I said I would love to give it a go. I am pleased to say I haven’t looked back.  My hope for this blog is that some of you will learn more about what it’s like to be retained and some of you might be so curious you join up like me! 


Declan’s messing around in the river…

“Since I got my BA qualification I have managed to pick up a couple of BA wears (using breathing apparatus at a fire.) They weren’t all that exciting as a lot of the smoke had cleared because of other teams work at the job. But it was still good experience to get to use it for real. Both times I was with a really experienced fire fighter so I felt really confident. He was happy as he had someone to do most of the work!! I guess that’s what happens when you’re the newbie.

At Kings Lynn we unfortunately go to a lot of water rescues. Sometimes people have a few drinks and fall in the river or swim in some of the local lakes that have weed under the surface which causes them to get into difficulties and sometimes drown. So we have some special equipment and training to help people that get themselves in trouble. This meant I went on a water first responder course to teach me how to rescue people from water.

Declan practising his throwbagging techniqueThere are different levels of water rescuer, and water first responder is in the middle, more trained than water awareness training but not as skilled as swift water rescue technicians.

You’ve all seen the attractive outfit we wear for water rescue in a previous blog, but now I’ve had the chance to wear it in water I can see why. It would be so cold without it.  You start the day doing all your theory and practise using a throw line in the yard. A throw line is essentially a bag full of rope that floats. We throw it to casualties in the water for them to catch so we can pull them in. It is not as easy as it sounds.

After this we spent most of the day in the water. It did feel like a lot of splashing about to begin with but you’re soon focussed on how to keep yourself safe in the water, positioning your body to protect yourself when you’re caught up in the flow. We practise wading techniques to rescue casualties that are stuck in water that is shallow enough to wade through but is moving too fast for you to be able to stand up by yourself so you have to get really friendly with your fellow water first responders so you don’t get washed away.

Then there’s throw bagging in the water. When your hands are wet and with a little fatigue and cold it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. And I never thought it looked that easy. But with a bit of practise you’re soon dragging firefighters out of the water left right and centre. There’s even a technique to get 2 casualties out with one rope!

Part of my training as a new fire fighter is to take part in what are called gateway assessments. I have my first one coming up so I will be working hard to make sure I pass it. I will let you know how I get on.

If you want any more information about how to stay safe in water please follow this link to some information on our website. I know I sound all a bit official  but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a fire fighter if I didn’t try to help you keep you all safe.


Chloe on fires and her radio appearance

14 September 2017

Chloe using a hoseChloe’s adjusting to her new found fame, so it’s time for us to catch up with her and see what she’s been getting up to!

This last week has been a really busy one for me. We attended a large fire at a recycling plant. l went with my crew from Outwell station as a relief team to give the other crews a well earned rest! The fire was the biggest I’ve confronted so far, it was only smoldering in places but still very warm and smokey. This was a great experience as I was able to get hands-on with the equipment, including a special foam we use to put fires out sometimes called CAFS.

I was also given the chance to have a go at operating the pump! This was a little insight into how much our pump operators need to know and how to work such a large piece of machinery… This insight has definitely encouraged me to want to progress to being a pump operator too!

I was quite chuffed to be asked if I could give an interview on radio Norfolk as part of their fire week campaign, they have been trying to help us recruit more retained firefighters. So after a long weekend I hauled myself out of bed on Monday at about 5 (until I joined fire service I didn’t know 5am existed,) to go to Norwich to meet Nick Conrad. What a lovely guy. He is giving almost his entire morning show over to the fire service all this week! We spoke about what it was like to be a woman in the fire service and how easy it is for anyone to just fit in. If you want to listen to it  you will have to fast forward to about 30 mins and 30 second in but there I am.


Chloe on Call

14 August 2017

I’m Chloe, you might have seen me before on Declan’s blog or during my two week induction course, in all the photos that were featured on facebook. I have always had an interest in the fire service as my dad was a firefighter when I was young. I went on to study Public Services at college and that kept my interest alive!

Chloe in front of fire engineI first applied at Outwell 6 weeks before my 18th birthday, I attended drill nights and was fascinated by all the activities they did and equipment used.

Unfortunately I failed my first application process at the last hurdle. I received support by the means of training. My now Watch Manager Glenn, helped me out by holding extra sessions such as equipment carries, dummy drags, he and the rest of the Outwell crew really helped keep my determination up.

One other firefighter even set me a training programme up using the equipment off of the pump. I used the hoses as weights to strengthen my upper body, I would also run them out a lot to help my skills and cardiovascular abilities. I passed the application process second time round and ever since I’ve been hands on in all of the drill nights.

My two weeks basic training was honestly the most thrilling, tiring, fun and memorable time of my life. At times I felt like I wasn’t able to do it, I didn’t know how to do things that others did know about, but other times I realised I knew things the others didn’t. We all worked as a team, and supported each other. Thanks to that every single one of us passed. I did have to redo a ladder assessment, but again with the help and support of my crew I passed it! That was one of the proudest days of my life.

I really enjoy drill nights, it’s an opportunity to learn, improve and essentially get hands on with tools and equipment.


Declan on passing his BA course

21 July 2017

“I’ve been working really hard since I last put out a blog.

I have passed my BA course which is brilliant!! It’s really tough but with some graft I managed it. We are really lucky because we use a building that the trainers can set real fires in. It’s my first real taste of what it’s like to be in a building fire, and I can tell you it’s very hot!!. I’m really glad I have passed the course. I haven’t had to use those skills for real yet. I know that when I do I will be partnered up with one of the more experienced fire fighters which we have lots of at Kings Lynn.

One of our crew has left to join the RAF. His last drill night we gave him a good send off, he was dunked into the dam we were pumping from. I wish him well.

Jack dunked

I have also been involved with a recruitment drive recently. I was interviewed for “Your Local Paper” to hopefully get some more retained recruits. I did the interview with a Firefighter called Chloe from Outwell. I have done some training with her in the past. I know she has worked really hard to get into the fire service and she will be starting her own blog soon to tell you about it. Here is a picture of her crew.”

Chloes crew at Outwell


Declan gets his first experience of the urban search and rescue team

13 June 2017

Our Declan has been busy over in the West of the County and these days, it’s like he’s been here forever – we caught up with him to see what he’d been up to lately. #DeclanOnDuty

Bowthorpe aerial shot

Norfolk fire service has an urban search and rescue team. We were lucky enough as a crew to get to attend a visit where they could show us what they can do. Apart from the water and animal rescue kit which we also have at Kings Lynn they have some excellent gear to deal with building collapse. Not just to get into buildings but stuff to hear and see what’s inside.

Snake eye is a camera that they can use to look through cracks, they also have another camera that has a microphone and speakers in the end so they can talk to anyone trapped in a building to let them know how they are going to get them out.

There’s airbags and hydraulic lifting equipment that can lift up trains and they have cutting gear that can cut through anything. We were allowed to try some of the stuff but not this!! I think they were worried that I would cut through the truck.

Next thing is my breathing apparatus course. It’s supposed to be a really good but hard course. We have a new training facility that we can set fire to, to simulate real building fires. Fingers crossed I pass!


Declan runs for colour!

25 MayDeclan on the colour run 2017
Latest instalment from our Dec, definitely proving that life as a Firefighter can be colourful at times.

“Do you fancy supporting a worthy cause by helping out with the colour dash at the weekend?” Rob (my Watch Manager) asked. It sounded like fun so armed with my trainers and shorts I turned up ready for action. What I wasn’t ready for was getting covered head to foot with dry paint by an army of volunteers whilst running 5KM with 650 other runners through Kings Lynn. And contrary to popular belief kids are ninja at hitting you in the face with it. But it was for a worthwhile cause and we also had the “opportunity” to clean up afterwards as well. Lucky, lucky us 😀 😀 We had so much fun, a lot of money was raised and more bonding time with my crew. There is a link below if anyone wants to donate anything. And just before we were about to have a well earned coffee we got a shout, a car fire on the A47. We were there in minutes and it was dealt with quickly so the road didn’t have to be shut for too long. And the police weren’t even slightly put off by my blue and orange face! 😉


When Declan met Chloe

05 April 2017

In the west Norfolk area there are quite a few new firefighters. Some were on the last course a few weeks ago. As a new fire fighter we do a lot of training in the basics. On Monday night I had the opportunity to train with some of the new firefighters that were on the most recent course. Chloe from Outwell and Joe from Heacham. It went really well I like working with new people. Apparently we’ll be doing it quite a bit over the next few months which will be good. We did all have to go out on a shout and left Chloe and Joe behind. I don’t think they’re still waiting in the yard?? 😉

By that time we’d been throwing ladders around for quite a while so they headed back to Outwell and Heacham. We weren’t out on the shout for too long and came back to do some of our standard tests and my fitness test. It’s just a step test and I sailed through so I’m pleased with that. Even the old boys didn’t struggle so I would have been surprised if I had.

We even had time for another shout so a very busy night all in all. Absolutely loving it at the moment.Declan with other retained firefighters


Declan imagines a water rescue!

Declan in water rescue gearOn Monday night I got my first taste of water rescue training. I also discovered that you don’t need a river to practise water rescue techniques, apparently all you need is a drill yard and some imagination! We covered some of the things I may be asked to help with including setting up the raft. I also had a go at using our throw lines. They are bags of floating rope that we throw to people in the water so that we can pull them to safety.

I soon discovered it is not as easy as it looks. We had a target to aim for and to start with I was throwing it way too high or not long enough. After a few failed attempts though I started to get the hang of it.

I was also wearing the kit that we have for water rescue our drysuits. They aren’t as comfortable as they look but I’m sure it will keep me warm. At one point I was asked to go for a swim but I didn’t have my arm bands on so I could only paddle!

Last week we did some Road Traffic Collision training and cut up a car that was on its roof. Because it’s upside down it changes how we would deal with it and the types of kit we would use. It was a really good learning session for me as this wasn’t something I had done at training school. Again I learnt a lot from the more experienced guys on the crew on dealing with it, some of the fire fighters have been in nearly 20 years so there isn’t much they haven’t seen or done. I still haven’t had to cut up a car for real yet but the training we have been doing means that I am ready if I have to.



Declan’s changing the day job

03 March 2017
I really enjoyed working at the shop but fancied a bit of a change. A friend of mine owns his own barbers and offered me an apprenticeship which sounded great to me as I love a haircut. I was really worried as this would affect some of the cover I could give. I spoke to Rob (my watch manager,) about it and we came to sort out how it might change. He said that so long as I can keep up most of the cover I give then we’ll be ok.

Most of my cover is going to be the same just one of the days is going to change so he was happy with that, he has even offered some of the crew to practise cutting hair on.

This week at drill we did some scenarios including a house fire with 2 people that needed rescuing from the first floor. Although I am not trained yet to use breathing apparatus I used loads of the things that I learnt on my initial course. I was on the crew that put the ladder up and had to lay out loads of hose as well. I can see why you spend so much time getting the basics right at training school, it then comes a lot more naturally when you have to do it on station.

I know there’s a course in a few weeks so I know there will be some new fire fighters working hard for 2 weeks.

Recruits at training school


Declan on drill nights

Declan at a jobWe have drill nights every Monday night. They are really good as we get to practise using the kit we have, ready for when we have to use it for real.

On Monday night we did some training with the whole time that were on duty. They had set up an exercise for us off station. We went to the docks to practise using the pumps to pump water. If there was a large incident we would need more water than a fire engine carries.

I really enjoyed working with the other crews. They have years and years of experience between them and I learnt a lot.

It was the first time that I had done any training off station and it makes a difference as you have to think more practically and be aware of what’s around you a lot more – like people, cars, animals – any hazards, that type of thing.

It has been a bit quieter for fire calls over the last week or so which I’ve been told to expect from time to time but after a really busy weekend the other week I’m glad of the rest!


Getting to know Declan


Last week was a really busy week for me. My day job is in River Island, I help customers and sort stock so I’d been there during the week. River Island has agreed that if I get a shout and my alerter goes off I can go which is really great of them. On Saturday, I had the day off from River Island, but if I hadn’t I’d have had to left there to go to a fire call. All of us retained Firefighters carry alerters (they look just like pagers) and they beep if there’s an emergency shout for us to attend. We then have to get to the Station as quickly as possible but obviously making sure we’re safe.

We went to a large fire in North Runcton just outside of Kings Lynn. I’m still at the point where sitting in the back of the cab, on blues and twos, driving through the countryside is quite a buzz, not sure how long that will last but right now it’s awesome. We worked really hard to get a water supply early on, there was lots of hose running which is something I am getting to be good at as you have to master the basics before you’re let loose on the technical stuff. I found out on Saturday what fire ground feeding is as well. If you’re at an incident for a long time you get fed. A local Rapid Relief Team came out to the fire to feed us and all the crews that were there. Within an hour of them being called they were on site with hot tea and coffee and not long after that a fantastic cheese and bacon burger! Who would have thought that I would be stood covered in mud from working beside a pond having a burger in a field. Brilliant. The boss said that over 48 hours they’d fed between 200 and 300 Firefighters which is so great of them. Can’t tell you how much we needed that. I have been back to that fire several times since then, it is expected to be burning for a few days yet. So all of us have to take turns to make sure people can do their day jobs and get some sleep, so I’m sure I’ll be back again. We had to keep an eye on it and make sure it didn’t spread. It’s too large to put out at the moment, but we have to monitor it and keep the area around it cool to make sure nothing else catches. As with any jobs there are dramatic bits and more boring bits, standing watching a fire to make sure it doesn’t spread isn’t the most exciting thing but it is important. When you’re watching icicles form in front of a fire it gives you the chance to get to know your crew. We had quite a laugh and the boss says its important for us all to be close, to work together as a team, especially when it’s really kicking off. I also had drill night on Monday and we had another shout then.

There was a small fire at the local sports centre. It was in the electrics, everyone was evacuated quickly and we soon had it dealt with. I got to work with some of the whole time Firefighters from Lynn on that job. One thing I have enjoyed is meeting different Firefighters from all over the county this weekend. Even my brother who is retained at Attleborough came over to North Runcton as a relief crew at one point!


Declan on Duty

I went to the College of West Anglia to study uniformed services. We worked with all the different services and armed forces but the only thing that really appealed to me was the fire service. It wasn’t just the kicking doors down and putting fires out, but the fact that you help people that made me really think about joining. I’ve always enjoyed being outside and working practically and this just seemed the best fit for me. So I looked into joining my local retained fire station in Kings Lynn. I have now been “on the run” as a fire fighter for just over a week. Within an hour of getting my alerter I attended my first fire call which was a lift rescue. Fortunately everyone was ok, but it was great to get out the doors on blue lights at last. As soon as we got back we were straight into some training in the yard as well, no messing about.

I am really looking forward to getting involved with the water rescue side of the job, fortunately for me the Kings Lynn appliance has some specialist kit for that. Apparently you get chucked in a weir and left to splash about. I think they’re winding me up a bit but I’m really looking forward to it.

I know there will be some tough things for me to deal with, in particular I know that I may have to attend incidents involving young people. I’m not looking forward to that, but there’s a lot of experience and support on the crew that has already helped me.

As a 19 year old I am the youngest member of the crew but I’m not treated any differently. There have already been a lot of laughs and I’m looking forward to lots more. And I’ve already got my first pay packet, the crew reckon that will help with my tight T-shirt addiction.

 Declans crew at Kings Lynn