On call firefighter leads recruitment drive in Ayrshire

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An on-call firefighter is calling on others to follow her footsteps. Elizabeth Jenkins joined the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) two years ago and is based at Colmonell Community Fire Station in Ayrshire.

The 43-year-old mother says it’s a job that fits around looking after her four children, while she also enjoys the physical aspects of the role. Elizabeth grew up in Gloucestershire and spent 12 years in New Zealand. The family came to Ayrshire eight years ago, where husband Tom works as a farmer.

On call firefighters are trained and prepared to respond at a moment’s notice to protect their community. They often have primary employment and they organise their on-call role with work and family life.

Elizabeth said: “It is definitely a great job if you enjoy being active, serving your community, meeting new people, learning new skills, being part of a team and can work under pressure.

“I really enjoy working with the public and going into schools to hopefully inspire the next generation of firefighters. It’s great to see the joy on the primary school kids faces when we visit.

“It’s also very rewarding to see the relief on people's faces when we arrive and also the feeling that we have helped make someone feel safe in their home.”

Station Commander Laura McIntyre has 20 years’ experience with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). She is based at Cumnock Community Fire Station and oversees on call recruitment for the area.

She said: “We’re really looking for people to step forward and consider a career as an on call firefighter. We have vacancies all across the Ayrshire area but are particularly looking for people to serve their local communities at Girvan and Colmonell Community Fire stations. We work hard to recruit and support applicants by providing information and holding open days. We also have a new pre-recruitment employment programme which provides additional support to applicants. It would be great to see people stepping forward and provide a service for the community by the community.”

On call firefighters commit to providing a set number of hours cover each month and attending a three-hour training night once a week to maintain and develop their skills. In addition to earning a retainer fee, they also learn valuable transferable skills and make a difference by helping to keep people in their local community safe.

Area Commander Ian McMeekin is SFRS Local Senior Officer for Ayrshire. He said: “On Call Firefighters are exceptional individuals and I thank all our on call firefighters for their commitment. We are calling on people in their local communities who wish to learn new skills and work as part of a close team to help keep people safe.

“As a service, we are working to support recruitment as it can be challenging within rural and remote communities. We have established a National On Call Leadership Forum which is identifying and driving improvements in recruitment.

“We have already introduced a pre-recruitment engagement programme which introduces candidates into the station environment for up to 12 weeks to more fully understand the role. We have also appointed 54 on call support officer posts to maintain appliance availability and assist training.

“We are committed to driving forward improvements and we will continue to engage and work with key stakeholders and communities to achieve this.

“We are also committed to representing the diverse communities we serve so we are urging people from all walks of life who have different skills and experience to apply for this role.”

Elena Whitham, MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said: “Representing a rural constituency, I know the value small local communities place on On Call Firefighters and in many instances those firefighters are already at the heart of communities in other employed roles.”

“Anyone who wants to contribute to the overall safety and wellbeing of their community should seriously consider a rewarding role within Scottish Fire and Rescue Service such as this.”


You can find out more about the on call firefighter role and current vacancies here 



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