A village fire station is critically short-staffed and crew members are appealing for more locals to join up and keep the pumps running.
Billingborough Fire Station has a crew of just five available ‘on-call’ part-time firefighters on its books, making it harder and harder to turn out to emergencies in the area having a knock-on effect on response times.
The bare minimum to crew an appliance is four,
They are now appealing for more men and women from all walks of life to consider what they see as a very rewarding role.
On-call firefighters are paid to be available during agreed periods of the week when not doing their ‘day’ jobs. They respond to pocket alerters from within five-or-so minutes drive of the station in Billingborough High Street.
However, major employers, including the rural farms, in the locality, have declined, closed or moved away.
Divisional Commander Sean Taylor said: “It has always been a struggle in such a small village and we will be losing another member in January. We would really like to increase numbers here to between eight and ten to spread the workload and provide better cover.
“The fire station desperately needs the community’s help.”
He says the flexible on-call service can suit the hours of self-employed businesspeople or even parents in between school runs.
The variety is a key bonus of the job, say the crew - not knowing from one day to the next what their next call will be - fires, floods, road collisions, animal rescues and first responder medical emergencies.
The village has a long tradition with fire service. Its previous fire station still stands across the road from the modern facility, dating back to 1900 and the crew are proud of how integrated they are within the community.
Sean said there are at least 2,000 people living within the village alone, plus neighbouring areas of Horbling, Pointon, Folkingham and Threekingham. All they need is five men or women to come forward.
There are no age restrictions, apart from being 18 or over, and you need to be in good health and reasonably fit, but that is something the service can help with. Without an upper age limit you could be semi-retired. You can even be put through Light Goods Vehicle training if you chose to become a fire engine driver, and it can also be a stepping stone to the ‘full-time’ service.
Sean said: “Once you are in, the job offers so much around team working, transferrable skills, health and safety, first aid, as well as opprtunities to advance into leadership and management.”
Retained firefighters are paid pro rata on the same rate as full-time crews, earning several hundred pounds a month.
Watch Manager Gary Bellamy is a self-employed car body repairer and has been a firefighter for 30 years and admitted: “You have to be broad minded and cannot be scared of heights, small spaces or be too squeamish, but there is that adrenalin rush and reward when you help someone out and they are OK.”
Crew Manager Shane Taylor is a self-employed landscape gardener and finds it helps pay the bills over the quiet months. It helped Firefighter John Overton too, who went on to get a job on the firecrew at RAF Scampton as well.
If interested in joining, pop along to the station on Mondays 7-9.30pm, call 0800 3580204 or visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/oncall
The fire service is also recruiting for stations at Brant Broughton and Billinghay.