We all know the location of the town’s fire station on the Saltway in Droitwich, but did you know that the site is also a training hub for firefighters as well?
Firefighters from across Herefordshire and Worcestershire using the training centre to keep their skills up to date. Trainee firefighters also complete their training at the site.
We caught up with Station Commander Jon Laight, the operational training manager of Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s Training Centre, to find out more about the firefighter training which takes place in Droitwich.
1. What does your role involve? The main role I play is leading the instructor and technician team within our Training Centre, ensuring the annual training programme runs smoothly as well as continuously developing in line with new policy, procedure, rescue techniques and equipment. As part of my role, I also manage our Strategic Training Facilities around the two counties and I am a Level 2 response officer, which means I attend the more serious or protracted incidents where fire crews need the support to ensure incidents are resolved safe.
2. Could you explain what the training department does at Droitwich? Our core business is ensuring all our operational staff receive the latest training and information to make sure they are safe, effective and professional firefighters providing the best operational skills to protect themselves and the community. The team deliver training to new recruits throughout the year as well as to our established operational firefighters around the two counties. They also develop future training courses.
3. How long have you been in the Fire Service? I have been in the service for 20 years at the end of the year with 18 of those served as a full time firefighter. I have worked at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) for 11 years and have also served Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
4. What do you train firefighters to do? All firefighters are trained in core skills initially which involves being able to use our fire engine water pumps, ladders, breathing apparatus, hydraulic cutting gear, working at height equipment and hazardous material equipment as well as being to recognise the many risks that a modern firefighter faces. Once based at their fire station, they receive further training around community fire safety which includes basic technical fire safety training as well as a programme of regular on station training to ensure their skills do not fade. Depending on what fire station they are on, they may also receive further training in specialist areas such as water rescue, line rescue and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR). All of these skills need to be kept current which is what our excellent and experienced training team do most days of the working week as well as weekends.
5. What do you enjoy most about your job? The variety of what I and the organisation do. I am primarily office based now but due to the opportunities of further learning and collaboration, I also get to visit many different fire services around the country to share best working practice which keeps us at the very forefront of firefighting techniques. Being a response officer is also a challenge but very enjoyable when incidents do arise and I play a part in helping our communities- the first reason I joined the Fire Service back in the 90’s! It also makes my two daughters, Lara and Rhea, very proud.
6. Do you train people to become firefighters at the Droitwich site? Yes, the first three weeks of any new recruit training happens at Droitwich Fire Station. The majority of any other training either happens at our Strategic Training Facilities or at one of our 27 fire stations.
7. Firefighters do more than fight fires – what else do they do? Pretty much everything else that helps keep our community safe and educated. As well as attending fires, we also attend road traffic collisions, animal rescues, water incidents, incidents involving hazardous material, aircraft incidents as well as many others. We work closely with our neighbouring services as well as other agencies such as the police, ambulance, highways and councils to resolve emergencies as well as planning for incidents and preventing incidents from occurring in the first place. Our corporate vision of Saving More Lives also sees us doing even more to help people- whether it is saving them and protecting them in their time of need or by preventing harm from coming to them in the first place. This can involve anything from delivering flood education workshops to school children to hosting a Blood Bike at one of our stations.
Fire crews also visit residential properties for Community Home Fire Safety visits which give people information on how to keep themselves safe and prevent fires from occurring and this sometimes involves us fitting smoke detectors in their property. Crews also visit local businesses to gather information about risks to themselves as well as provide business fire safety advice and offer any support that may be required. It’s a really all-round and challenging career that is incredibly fulfilling. Being able to help others as part of a team, with the health and wellbeing of everyone in the communities and our organisation at the very forefront of our activities, is one of the most rewarding opportunities and anyone who is considering joining should contact us as we are always on the lookout for on-call firefighters.