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!


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.



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!