Could you help fight Thornbury's fires?

May 29 2019
Could you help fight Thornbury's fires?

AVON Fire and Rescue Service is looking for people to join the team of on-call firefighters who answer emergencies in Thornbury.

On-call firefighters are paid and fully-trained but rather than being full time they hold down other jobs, answering calls as they are needed.

The service is currently looking for new recruits who live within five minutes’ drive of the town’s fire station in Gloucester Road.

Stephen Hales, 40, has been an on-call firefighter for two years and is urging people to consider the part-time role.

Stephen, above, who is married with two teenage children, already did a lot of community work with Thornbury Round Table and was a cub scout leader for a number of years before taking on his firefighting role.

In his early days in the job he was part of a team dealing with an explosion at a hotel in the early hours of the morning. But it’s the diversity of the work that he enjoys, not just the firefighting.

He said: “You do everything from fires to helping the community and the bit that I get most enjoyment out of is seeing that we’ve assisted a local person.

“There are some people who are in a desperate situation and we can help improve their lives, for example elderly people in their houses. We might gain entry for the ambulance service and assist with lifting them from the floor into a comfortable position.”

There are several stages to the selection process: an interview, a fitness test, written tests, and a physical test. Then there’s the training.

Stephen said: “It was really good varied training – they took you through from the basics of pitching a 13.5 metre ladder, to running multiple pumps, and then on to hot scenarios using breathing apparatus.

“Search and rescue in a smoke-filled environment is a great, challenging exercise to prepare you for the real thing. Teamwork is the key to completing the job in the best way.”

Stephen took 25 days off from his job as a design engineer at Applied Vacuum Engineering in the town to train.

He said: “I am very grateful to my employer for this flexibility and their commitment to the local community.”

Stephen said it was important for anyone applying to get a feel for the on-call firefighter’s role.

“Go down to the local station and have a chat with the men and women there to find out what the job entails and what impact it’s going to have on your life,” he said. “I got a lot from talking to people about what would be expected of me when I was in the role.”

The service says on-call firefighters provide a lifesaving service to the community and earn a second income.

A spokesperson said: “You can work flexibly around other work and family commitments, while still being an important part of Avon Fire & Rescue Service by responding to emergency calls when you’re needed.”

All the application information is online at