We can only hope that it also encourages individuals within the community to apply to become a part of our team. If we can show that the fire service is investing in the community with new facilities then it can only help.
A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service station that has proudly served its community since 1965 is in line for a welcome internal renovation this year.
With “a lot more facilities” about to be installed at the Community Fire Station in Abbots Bromley, those who serve there believe they will be able to “get a lot more out of the station” – while it will also “encourage recruitment”.
Having opened on 10th July 1965, the station has served the surrounding area from Goose Lane ever since. Before that, services for the local community ran out of some garages situated nearby.
Crewed by retained firefighters, all personnel live within the required five-minute radius of the site. This means they know the community they serve inside out and all are ready to drop what they are doing whenever duty calls.
There are currently seven crew assigned to the station. Having up-to-date equipment for training and keeping fit certainly helps crews, so the first upgrades to the station since the early 2000s are welcome.
Watch Manager Sara Wilkinson, born in Lichfield but who has lived in Abbots Bromley since she was eight years old, has served at the station since joining Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2002.
She said: “It’s going to be more user-friendly for us and more purpose-built. We are going to be able to get more out of the station. There’s going to be a lot more facilities like a gym for us, better toilet and shower areas, and it will help with recruitment too. It will be a more effective use of the space.”
Physically things won’t look too different from the outside – with the only noticeable difference being a Portakabin installed out the back of the station which will house the new gym facilities for the crew to use.
“The crew currently have to travel to other gym facilities, so that could be Rugeley, Uttoxeter or Hoar Cross,” Sara added. “That’s at least 15 minutes out of the area and they can’t be on call at that time so have to book off to carry out a vital part of their job.
“We are now in discussions with a fitness adviser to ensure the equipment meets the needs of the crew and the new station.
“I’m hoping that appliance availability will be better because they will be able to train and keep fit on-station. They won’t need to ‘book off’ to keep fit – a vital part of the role.
“There will be better places to store both our clean and dirty kit, a training room and a dedicated watch room. All in all it will be a safer environment.”
Station Manager Mark Tattum has recently taken the post – which also includes overseeing the stations at Barton Under Needwood and Uttoxeter – having joined the service in 2000. He can already see the benefits of the station’s forthcoming revamp, while also hoping it will help the station with recruitment, as on-call firefighters are always needed.
He said: “An awful lot of work routines involve administrative tasks – training, online learning etc. Given a nice, modern environment it will no doubt help individuals at the station to perform better.
“We can only hope that it also encourages individuals within the community to apply to become a part of our team. If we can show that the fire service is investing in the community with new facilities then it can only help.
“For the community, if the service has the best-trained and the most-competent individuals within its fire station that can only help them.”
And Sara added that she had watched former crew members working shifts at the station as she grew up, and that she was happy to be able to emulate them herself when she joined Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service nearly 20 years ago.
“I’ve got a lot of happy memories starting from the bottom, doing my training, running out hoses, being disciplined and put through my paces,” she added.
“It’s been a journey and it’s all been very fun.”
Mark added: “Abbots Bromley are still looking for on-call firefighters. Get in touch with us – any firefighters that you know on the station - to get involved.”
For more information on what being an on-call firefighter entails and to speak to somebody about signing up, visit www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/careers/on-call-firefighters/