What it’s like being a firefighter in Bristol – and how to become one yourself

what its like being a firefighter in bristol and how to become one yourself - What it's like being a firefighter in Bristol - and how to become one yourself

It’s the dream of many young boys and girls to become a firefighter.

And now Avon Fire and Rescue Service is beginning a search for the ‘brightest and best’ people of Bristol to join them.

Bosses at the service said they are looking to welcome applications from across the diverse local area, and are urging women and people from a BAME background to apply to reflect Bristol’s community.

From this month, potential applications will be invited to find out more about the service and what it ‘really means to be a modern, inclusive and ambitious wholetime firefighter’.

Avon Fire are launching a campaign with the message ‘Yes You Can’, as they start the recruitment drive, with the application process starting for real in March.

“A career in the fire service is exciting, often challenging, always varied and entirely rewarding,” said Simon Shilton, Avon’s assistant chief fire officer.

“We are looking for honest, ambitious and courageous people who are driven by representing and making a positive difference in their community; who want to be part of an effective and efficient team; and who have the aspirations of becoming a leader of the future,” he added.

What’s the role like in 2020?

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A firefighter from Patchway Fire Station tackling a car fire (Image: Patchway Fire Station)

“The remit of a firefighter in today’s world is much broader than the role played at emergencies,” explained Mr Shilton.

“We need people with different skill sets who are passionate about community safety, are committed to prevention and protection and who can act as a role model inspiring others to be the best they can be,” he added.

What’s the pay like?

A ‘wholetime’ firefighter is responsible for ensuring fire stations are crewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A fully qualified firefighter earns £31,000 a year and the fire service said the career promotion path provides investment in you from qualification in technical expertise, leadership and academic achievements such as degrees and more.

“This can lead all the way up to chief fire officer via a variety of departments such as Risk Reduction, Technical Fire Safety, Training or Risk Intelligence, along with operational roles,” a spokesperson added.

How many will apply?

“We have been delighted with the interest we’ve received during our previous recruitment campaigns and we are once again expecting a large number of applications,” said Mr Shilton.

“I am hopeful that they will come from all areas of our diverse community; it’s important the service reflects the communities we serve and I would encourage people from all backgrounds to find out more and apply.

“If you want a career where you can make a difference, has opportunities for advancement and gives back to you what you put in then joining our team and becoming a firefighter is for you.

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Firefighters at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre (Image: Jon Kent)

“If the role of a firefighter is not necessarily for you, we also currently advertising for various corporate staff and on-call firefighter roles.

“We post roles all year round, so keep an eye on our website for future opportunities to join the Avon Fire & Rescue Service family, or sign up to our mailing list for more info,” he added.

What do some of AF&RS’ recruits have to say?

Liam Bamford

Liam was a team leader for G4S Cash Solutions and had applied twice before, both of which were unsuccessful.

But his sheer determination meant he eventually did pass the application process.

Liam, who has since become a fully qualified firefighter with White Watch at Temple Fire Station, said: “Joining Avon Fire & Rescue Service has fulfilled one of my life long ambitions and I can’t wait to begin progressing my career.”

Steph Ford

After getting a law degree, Steph was working in an office when she decided an office-based job wasn’t for her.

She has now been in the service for more than two years and is currently based at Yate Fire Station.

“I know that females have struggled in past recruitment phases with strength and fitness, but you’ve got enough time to sort that out,” she said.

“If you are thinking about joining and if you are serious about joining, then just put the work in.”

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Paul Kirk

Watch Manager Paul Kirk joined the service back in 2000 and has been a firefighter for 20 years.

“It was very important for me to start a career where I had the opportunity to progress and in the fire service you can progress up the ranks if you choose to and if you don’t you can stay as a firefighter and take on specialist responsibilities or additional roles.

“I would say to anyone who was thinking about joining the fire service that it’s a very interesting career, no two days are the same,” he added.

What happens next?

Over the coming months Avon Fire and Rescue will be hosting a number of recruitment awareness events, which are scheduled to take place throughout February.

The days will offer a ‘try before you apply’ opportunity where you can find out everything you need to know about the process, the fitness test and the practical assessment.

To find out more about events coming up and the opportunities the service has visit www.yesyoucan.careers and register your interest to receive updates.

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