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.