Across the United Kingdom, there are 3,029 fire stations, all providing the essential and valuable service of protecting the community.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview a retained on-call firefighter based in Lymington.

What is the best thing the community can do to make your jobs easier?

Have more of an understanding of how the fire service works. As firefighters we are not all sat watching TV or playing games at the station waiting for our next fire call. There are a lot more retained stations around where people are on pager contact. In fact, there are many retained (unmanned) fire stations around where people are on pager contact, doing normal jobs or home with family when they are called in. Therefore, it is not good for example phoning 999 at 3am to say your fire alarm is going off, and it turns out to just be the low battery signal. Common sense is a huge thing, so don’t call for small things that can be sorted by anybody else, especially in situations when the public know that there is a huge fire somewhere and the fire service is stretched.

How many calls do you receive on average?

In Lymington, with a station of two fire engines and 13 firefighters, we receive around 365 calls per year.

At the recent fire near St. Mary’s Football Stadium in Southampton, which broke out on Wednesday March 6, more than 100 firefighters were called to help battle the flames, including those from Lymington. The fire service did not completely leave the site until Friday night.

Could you describe your experience of this event?

I was called as part of a relief crew and we were based as the main pumping station for 8 hours until our relief early in the morning.

Would you recommend firefighting as a career?

I would definitely recommend this as a great career, as either a retained or full-time firefighter. As a retained firefighter in Lymington, I feel that I have given a lot to the local community, and helped a lot of people. I’m well-known in this town for the work that I have done over my last 23 years of service.

What is the best thing about your job?

The experiences that I have had and things I have seen have enriched my life. To have received four medals, for the Queen’s Diamond and Platinum Jubilees, the King’s coronation, and also a 20-year-long service and good conduct medal is definitely source of pride. I wear the bar of ribbons on my uniform, and have the medals framed on my walls. When I retire, I intend to get them mounted on a piece of Oakwood with a silver firefighters axe and a brass BA tally engraved with my rank, service number, time in, and time out.

  • This article was written by Madeleine Crabtree, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter Scheme.