Declan on Duty

 Dec Header

Dec Fire Engine

 Did you know that we have vacancies in 28 out of our 39 retained stations at the moment? We need to get the numbers up so that we can keep fire engines on the run as much as possible so we got to wondering, how much do you all know about being a retained Firefighter? What is one, how can you be one, what does it take, what kind of people are retained Firefighters?

We've got a new Firefighter, called Dec who has just started at King's Lynn station and we're going to be following him, through his journey starting out as a Firefighter. He's going to tell us what it's like, his highs and lows and if you've got any questions for Dec, you can ask them through our facebook page...

 

Did you know that we have vacancies in 28 out of our 39 retained stations at the moment? We need to get the numbers up so that we can keep fire engines on the run as much as possible so we got to wondering, how much do you all know about being a retained Firefighter? What is one, how can you be one, what does it take, what kind of people are retained Firefighters?

We've got a new Firefighter, called Dec who has just started at King's Lynn station and we're going to be following him, through his journey starting out as a Firefighter. He's going to tell us what it's like, his highs and lows and if you've got any questions for Dec, you can ask them through our facebook page...

So, meet Firefighter Declan – one of NFRS' newest. 

12 October 2017

 

“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 throw baggingThere 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.

 

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.

 Jack's dunking

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.

 

 

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.”

 

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

USAR's kit laid out on Bowthorpe drill yardNorfolk 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 on the Colour Run in Kings Lynn25 May 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 :D :D 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! ;)

 

 Chloe, Declan and Joe

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 looking fab in his water rescue kit24 March 2017

On 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.

 

Recruits in training school03 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.

 

Declan in all his gear14 February 2017
We 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!

 

Declan, definitely enjoying his burger26 January 2017

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 and his Crew, and a big yellow helicopter18 January 2017
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.