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Being an on-call firefighter doesn't harness Tutbury man's woodcarving life

March 2 2020

A man who carves rocking horses for a living but gives up his own time to help fight fires as an on-call firefighter is urging others to others to get involved and “give back to the community”.

Have the courage to get involved and don't be a passenger in life

On-call firefighter Pete Rix

Pete Rix, from Tutbury, is a wood carving teacher and creates prestigious rocking horses for a living in his workshop but joined Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service a year ago as an on-call firefighter after seeing a fire drill take place when he was walking to the train station and wanting to give back to the community.

The 42-year-old, who has been wood carving since he was 14, said being an on-call firefighter is a ‘big responsibility’ but people should ‘give it a go and have the courage to step forward’.

He said: “Becoming an on-call firefighter is about my own personal development and being able to learn new things. It also sets an example to my daughter and shows that you can do anything and be whoever you want to be if you put your mind to it.

“It proves you can have a few careers, you don’t always need to stick to one. Being on-call gives me a work-life balance and you can give as much as you can but you can also balance your own time. Having to be five minutes away is a big commitment initially but it tails off.

“People need different experiences and different life experiences. The more I get involved in the job, the more I enjoy it.”

He added: “Sometimes you’re the last person people will see, especially in cases of a fatal fire, so there’s a moral duty of care. It’s a privileged position to be in and one that many doctors may be in. It’s a big responsibility.”

Pete balances his role as an on-call firefighter for the service alongside his full-time job at his home where he creates personalised rocking horses from scratch, along with restoration projects and teaching wood carving classes.

“I’ve been wood carving since I was 14 – my design technology teacher at school knew I was interested in woodwork and offered to teach me. I then went to university and became a designer but I knew I wanted to work with wood as a job and wondered how.

“That’s when I decided to go into rocking horses but it’s a more product-based thing and you can make the same pattern but every single one is different. It satisfies the wood carver in me and then I use my graphic design background to market them. I’ve been doing it full-time for around three years now,” said Pete.

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service is recruiting for on-call firefighters across the county. On-call firefighters provide emergency response cover from either their home or work base, which needs to be within five minutes of their local station. After the initial training course, on-call firefighters will attend weekly drill nights to ensure they maintain their skills, along with many more opportunities for training throughout the year.

As well as responding to emergencies, on-call firefighters can also get involved in community fire safety initiatives in their local area, including home fire risk checks and school visits.

Pete added: “I would tell anyone thinking about it go give it a go. Have the courage to get involved and don’t be a passenger in life. Everyone at the service is so friendly and you won’t know how to do it at first but anyone can pick it up.

“I don’t want to be a wholetime firefighter because I’m happy doing my own thing at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Anyone looking to become an on-call firefighter must by over 18 and live within five minutes of their nearest station. For more information, visit: https://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/careers/retained-on-call-firefighters/.