Thankfully for most people their only encounter with the Fire Service is when a fire engine whizzes by with lights flashing and two tones blaring as its crew heads off to some emergency.
This week we gave our members the chance to see behind the scenes at Lowestoft South Fire Station...
Everyone gathered in the Mess for introductions and the all important safety brief.
And here was my chance to show everyone what I'm getting up to when I dash out of meetings or cut short a phone conversation. You see, I've been a retained firefighter (we're now known as on call firefighters) for the past 10 years and it's a job I love doing.
So I explained to our thebestof Lowestoft members that I can be called out at any moment of the day or night - this really is 24/7! When my alerter (pager) goes off I drop everything and head to the Fire Station on Normanston Drive and find out what we're being tipped out to. And in pure 'boys and their toys' tradition I'm even allowed to drive the fire engine. It's certainly one way of beating all the traffic jams in town!
What most people don't know is that of the four fire engines in Lowestoft only one of them is crewed by wholetime firefighters - those that are based full time at Lowestoft South Fire Station. The other three fire engines are crewed by on call firefighters like me. In fact we make up the vast majority of the firefighters based in Suffolk.
With the safety brief, a demonstration of our fire kit and a fire safety chat complete our the bestof Lowestoft members got up close and personal with the fire engines. They got to see our brand new breathing apparatus, the hydraulic cutting gear used in Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) and the many other bits of kit we have available.
We then moved on to what is quite a sobering RTC drill. Two our guests 'volunteered' to be casualties and were suitably suited and booted in all the necessary fire kit and safety equipment.
I then joined White Watch as we tipped out and round to the drill yard in the ERT (Enhanced Rescue Tender). I was allocated as casualty carer - keeping neck immobile and hopefully providing a reassuring commentary of what's going on.
And the casualty that I was caring for was none other than the Head of thebestof, Michelle Downey. Michelle had spent the day with us and rounded it off by be cut free from a car - thankfully not something you do every day.
So as I kept Michelle's head still the car was rapidly being dismantled around us. It's quite disconcerting being the casualty, even when you know it's not for real. There's quite a bit of noise, glass is breaking and metal is being cut.
In no time Michelle was sitting a an Astra 'convertible' as the roof was carried away.
Next up was remove Michelle on a long board out of the back of the car.
But we didn't make it that far... The bells went and the Watch needed to take the ERT. And with so much equipment in use it was all hands to the pumps to get things stowed away.
There was silence from our guests. Suddenly they were witnessing a real shout and the hive of activity that ensues...
Refreshments and a chat rounded off the evening and I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
A big thank you must go to Neil and White Watch for all their hard work and enthusiam. Thanks guys...
Member since: 10th July 2012
Co-owner of thebestof Lowestoft
Really enjoy the challenges that this brings!