International Women’s Day, March 8, was chosen for the launch of the recruitment drive which aims to highlight gender equality and opportunity.
Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service will be organising ‘taster’ days in coming months, offering people from a range of backgrounds an opportunity to experience what it takes to be a firefighter, or a member of the fire prevention team.
Participants will also be able to ask questions to those already in the service.
Clare Crisp joined the fire service after attending a ‘taster’ day at Didcot Fire Station in 2017.
The former primary school teacher, who is now a freelance writer, wanted to play an active role in the community, and after seeing an advert for on-call firefighters, she decided to give it a go.
Clare, now based at Bicester Fire Station, has attended over 200 incidents, including a blaze at Bullington Prison, house fires and animal rescues.
Clare said: “For me, it’s the best job in the world. I wish I’d joined the service years ago.
“You never know what’s coming next. During last year’s heatwave, field fires were a major problem. Each time we put one out, there’d be a fresh call from another farmer. Relentless, but very rewarding to know you’re saving people’s lives, property and livelihoods.”
Talking about the launch of the on-call diversity recruitment campaign, Clare said: “It’s been so great to see that Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service is committed to breaking down barriers.
"We want Oxfordshire to have a diverse team of firefighters, reflecting gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.”
On-call firefighters are everyday people with normal jobs and hobbies. They have flexibility to drop everything at a moment’s notice when they get an emergency call.
This will be mirrored in artwork for the campaign starring a number of firefighters from different backgrounds.
The recruitment campaign is designed to enhance community relationships, break down barriers, and deliver the right service and advice at the right time, with the right outcome.
Clare added: “Fire doesn’t discriminate, and neither does the fire service. If you think you have what it takes to be an on-call firefighter, we want to hear from you.”
Ideally on-call firefighters should live within a five-mile radius of the nearest fire station, but anyone further afield is also encouraged to get in contact; there are a range of other opportunities.
There are 330 on-call firefighters across the county; just under eight percent are female.
Businesses are being asked to allow employees to become on-call firefighters. Participating organisations often find they enhance their reputation by giving back to the local community.
Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service attended 6,654 emergencies across the county in 2018. They run educational campaigns on road and home safety, as well as advising and enforcing fire safety legislation to local businesses.
The on-call workforce consists of individuals who provide variable levels of cover, to suit their work and personal lives.
The next Female ‘Taster day’ will be held on Saturday, April 6 at Didcot.
To pre-book and for details of future ‘taster’ days, visit the website: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/oncallfirefighters or email firstname.lastname@example.org.