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Fire service - our people

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Gavin, firefighter

I was undecided on the career path I was going to take. A chance meeting whilst on holiday changed everything. I met a station manager who suggested I might enjoy working in the fire service, we kept in touch and he called to say Norfolk were recruiting. I contacted Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service to find out more and here I am, 27 years later!

I enjoy everything about being a firefighter - meeting and helping people in whatever situation they're in, liaising with other emergency services, teaching the community of all ages about prevention to keep them safe. Nothing gives me better job satisfaction than knowing when you arrive at an incident with the crew, we are doing the very best we can to make a bad situation better.

Over my career I have had many proud moments where I feel I have been able to make a real difference to people's lives. One of these was being part of Green Watch and receiving a commendation for the rescue of a five-year-old girl from a house fire. Knowing that we'd rescued her from a potentially life-threatening situation to reunite her with her distraught mother made me proud to be a firefighter.

I still remember clearly going through the various stages of interviews and assessments, the excitement of receiving an invite to join the next stage of the process. I simply cannot imagine doing any other job, It's shaped me into the person I am now and inspired me in my personal life to run the London Marathon, the Three Peaks Challenge and to be the very best dad to three beautiful children.

Ashley, firefighter and crew manager

Having studied sports and leisure at college I was looking for a career that was both active and challenging. I knew public services was the route I wanted to take and the question was 'Police or fire service?'. As soon as I finished College at 18 I applied for the fire service and was thrilled when I got a position in SYFRS, then transferring to NFRS in 2013.

My passing out parade was one of my proudest moments, my mum and dad watching and seeing what I had achieved.

For anyone thinking of joining, it is not your average 9-5 job, every day is different and no incident is ever the same. Your day is packed with valuable training along with any incidents that may happen and you get to work with a close knit group of colleagues, all who I call my mates.

What makes this job so special is being there for people when they need us, the opportunity to learn more every day through others knowledge, the courses available to specialise and being part of a Watch.

Norfolk is an amazing place to live and work. The people are friendly, I've been made to feel totally at home since moving here and it offers so much to me and my family. I have a great network of friends, from being part of a local football team, gyms and work of course. I really do love the place.

Leigh, firefighter

I wanted to be a firefighter as I knew the role would offer variety on a day to day basis. It was also the opportunity to help people at challenging times.

What I enjoy most is the unknown. We are often called to an incident expecting it to be a certain way, only to find circumstances changing on route. We adapt very quickly to the situation in hand and use all the training we've been given to get the best possible outcome.

The day usually starts by checking all critical equipment is present and working correctly on the appliance. We carry out training, conduct either risk checks or familiarisation visits to local high risk properties or businesses. If there is time we carry out some physical training during the day too which is essential for maintaining a good level of fitness.

What I love about Norfolk is that the people are extremely friendly, the county itself has lots of natural beauty and due to some of its specific risks, the role of a firefighter here can be diverse and rewarding.

Andrew, trainer

What made me become a firefighter? I saw an advert saying 'A job that's much more than just a job'. I was immediately drawn to it and knew it would be a job that was exciting and challenging and would give me a rewarding career. I've been at the fire service for 12 years and 2 years ago moved into the training department. I provide BA and fire behaviour instruction to firefighters and incident command training to junior and senior officers.

My days vary greatly, one day I could be providing classroom instruction on fire behaviour then in the afternoon providing hot fire training in the 'fire house'. The next day I could be delivering incident command training to experienced commanders, keeping them up to date on new procedures and ways of working. I've always enjoyed learning but equally I love sharing knowledge and teaching others. Seeing a probationary firefighter develop through the process right through to taking command of incidents is very satisfying. I grew up in Belfast and had never been to Norfolk before I was posted here in the RAF, but the county is a wonderful place to live with beautiful countryside and fabulous beaches. Bringing up a young family I couldn't think of a nicer place to be.

Kaine, trainer

My brother joined the fire service 18 months before I applied. If I'm completely honest it wasn't something I had considered until I noticed how much he loved the job.

I had become restless in the job I was doing at the time and decided I needed a career change. The more I thought about the fire service I decided it would be a great career to get into. I haven't looked back since. I love being part of a team. I enjoy all aspects of the role as a firefighter but there is something really special about watch life. You become a family, you rely on each other not just at incidents, but also in training and as a support network. You pull together, you know the strengths and weaknesses of the whole watch, they know yours and you help each other. I laughed, joked, cried, made mistakes, learnt from mistakes and you're never judged. Together you could end up saving somebody's life. It's a special bond and one to cherish.

I have recently been promoted to the training department. I think it's a real privilege to be training new recruits coming into our service or maintaining the skills of our current firefighters.

I live and work in a beautiful county. People are friendly and it always amazes me how people pull together in times of need. I meet great people on a daily basis and there are strong communities everywhere you go. I believe it's that togetherness that makes Norfolk a great place to work and live. I wouldn't want my children growing up anywhere else.

Jo, firefighter

Before becoming a firefighter, I worked with horses, in accountancy and then in a fire control role. I joined Norfolk Fire and Rescue as a firefighter as I really enjoy helping others and was looking for a career with a great deal of variety. No two days are the same! I love being part of a team and treated as a valued member of that team. I enjoy working with vulnerable people and being able to make a difference - especially the children that come to visit the station who love to learn about everything we do. You also get to work with the ambulance service during the co-responding trials which is challenging but also very rewarding.

I still have a passion for horses and out of work I am lucky to have organised a children's event training camp with their horses which has been very successful. It is great to see the children progress in such a short space of time.

Terence, operational safety officer

It certainly wasn't a lifelong ambition or a dream I had as a young lad - it's much less dramatic than that. After finishing college I started training to be an Accountant, as exciting as that sounds it was constantly being topped by the stories of a friend I played hockey with.

Every weekend I would hear how great the comradery and the social life was within the Fire Service and how exciting it was to go out on 'shouts' and rescue people.

I was green, green with envy, jealousy was the reason I decided to apply!

When I told my Mum I was going to apply to join the fire service, she couldn't have been more worried! Luckily for me my first Watch and crew managers were able to put her mind at ease. She was eventually able to sell my abacus and relax, I'm pleased to say she now has a complete change of opinion and is very proud.

From serving on a watch as a firefighter and crew manager to training new recruits and now as an OSO, the thing I have constantly enjoyed most is working with the most incredible bunch of people you could imagine. The operational response part, when you get to help someone is understandably a highlight but it wouldn't be the same without being able to work and laugh with people you can honestly call your 'mates'.

Some of my proudest moments at work so far have been over the last few years when I have had the privilege to train new recruits. Seeing people walk in the door with hardly any idea and then leaving at the end of their course absolutely exhausted, having lost blood sweat and tears, but being able to go on the run as an operational firefighter is incredibly rewarding.

What makes living and working in Norfolk special... I could say the beaches and the coastline, which are beautiful. But, by far the one thing that makes this place so special is the accent and the most ridiculous of sayings that make no sense what-so-ever. If I ever speak 'Norfolk' help me!

Ben, firefighter

At the age of 15 I was involved in a high-speed crash resulting in three weeks in hospital. For the first 20 minutes after the incident I was cared for by firefighters. I am forever thankful and could never really find the words to thank them. I now take great pride in serving the community and giving back the good work in what we do as a service.

On an average day, if there is an average day as a firefighter, it starts with a hand over briefing in the morning, followed by a parade at 9am with details of the days planned activities. We then carry out equipment checks to ensure all is ok and ready for operational use. During the shift we will undertake training and ready to attend calls.

What I enjoy about being a firefighter is every day is different, working alongside great people, training and challenging yourself and above all making a difference in people's lives. I am proud to support and help people. Recently I organised two charity events, raising over £700 for good causes. And as a father to 4 girls, whenever any of them achieve something it makes me feel like the luckiest person alive.

I live near the coast and have grown up around the seaside. I love the rural aspect of Norfolk, camping with the family and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

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