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Oxford,
19
February
2018
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08:00
Europe/London

10 people and their stories from our fire and rescue service

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The Rugby lover Chief Fire Officer

After he completed his training with Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Simon Furlong was posted to Crawley Fire Station in West Sussex. In 2012 he joined Oxfordshire and in 2016 he was promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Chief in 2017. He likes sailing, running, watching rugby and spending time with his daughter "who amazes me every day and makes me smile even after a long tiring day."

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I wanted to become a Firefighter to work with the local community and to help people when they needed some assistance.

-What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

Every day is my great day – I love coming to work and working with a exciting team both within the County Council and Community Safety. I was pleased to be appointed the Chief Fire Officer for Oxfordshire last year and want to make the Service into the future broadening the role of the Service to really make a difference for our residents.

Every time a person is hurt or suffers harm is a bad day for me. We can never make it right but we can make it better from that point onward, even if it is just being there. Having been cut out of a car following a serious road traffic collision myself I know the impact that my firefighters, support staff and control operators have when people need it the most.

The emergency planner who worked in a bunker

Carol Mackay joined Oxfordshire County Council in 2008 working on a national project, and later moved to technical communications, she then became a Business Continuity Officer before joining the Emergency Planning Unit (part of Community Safety directorate with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service). Our emergency services provide support to the community by ensuring Oxfordshire is prepared for emergencies. Carol has even worked out of a Cold War bunker in Woodeaton. Carol likes zumba and takes part in the London Moonwalk every year.

-Why did you join? What do you like about it? The job looked interesting, I have had lots of opportunities to train and progress since. I love the challenge of not knowing what the day may bring, working with lots of other partner agencies and helping people during incidents

-What was the best day and worst day in your career? The best day in my career with Community Safety was when we rescued a bride's wedding dress from the Randolph hotel fire so that she could wear it the next day and gaining my MSc in crisis management. Worst day dealing with over fifty people involved in a multi vehicle collision on the M40 or taking the phone call to say that there had been a collapse at Didcot power station.

The sporty newbie

Jullie Jensen became an on-call firefighter at Thame in September 2017. She is 46 and has two children aged 12 and 13, likes to keep active, swim, (indoor and open water), run, cycles, skis, dabbles in ladies cricket and go to the gym. She also skis and enjoys bookclub with her girfriends. "I persevered with the tests to be accepted in the fire service because I am always telling my children not to give up. I care about my children growing up and would like them to be considerate and caring individuals who are respectful to others, and supportive of those less fortunate than themselves."

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I wanted to do my bit for the community, I like a physical challenge and I wanted to help people. Thame has a great team of on-call firefighters and I like being a part of that team. Regards the actual job, I like the variety of the work, you never know what the next incident will be that you will be called to.

-What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

Obviously, I am still very new so I’ve not been to anything too dreadful yet. My best day however, was the last day of my initial Firefighter course when I found out I had passed the training course.

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I wanted to do my bit for the community, I like a physical challenge and I wanted to help people. Thame has a great team of on-call firefighters and I like being a part of that team. Regards the actual job, I like the variety of the work, you never know what the next incident will be that you will be called to.

-What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

Obviously I am still very new so I’ve not been to anything too dreadful yet. My best day however, was the last day of my initial Firefighter course when I found out I had passed the training course.

 

The karate teacher and amateur historian

Chris Wilson joined in 1993 at Charlbury as a retained fire station in the west of Oxfordshire and stayed there for almost 3 years until he became a whole-time firefighter. His hobbies are reading and writing books, teaching karate and also volunteering for the Fire Fighters Charity. He researches and looks after an archive of old pictures of Oxfordshire fire brigades, to write a updated history celebrating the pioneering firefighters. He's a trustee of the Fire Fighters Charity: https://www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I wanted to be a productive member of society plus the salary looked ok too, I wasn’t aware of the excitement and dangers present but soon found out.

What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter? Best day was getting my letter of appointment and I guess my worst day will be my retirement day.

The trainer and Kendo enthusiast

 

Pete Cox became an on-call firefigher at Bicester in 2001. He has worked as a removal man and then a plumber. "I travelled a lot with the removal company and played football with some people who were firefighters who suggested I joined, and later got a full-time job with the fire service" He now works in training in the fire service and likes to do Kendo, Japanese sword fighting.

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

The opportunity to help people is exciting and fulfilling,

What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

You turn up to the bad times, it’s the world falling apart for other people, it’s tragic some of the human stories we are exposed to, that are the worst days. The best is that you were there to try to put things right. It is a very supportive service and nurturing environment, we help each other, on a day by day basis. It is still a uniformed disciplined service but it is also inclusive, where you feel you are valued, this is becoming more prominent. It’s a more nurturing environment.

The ukelele player and Assistant Chief Fire Officer

 

Rob Macdougall is the Assistant Fire Officer andfirefighter since 1998. He plays ukelele and sings (badly, he claims): "I care about sustainability and what kind of planet we are leaving for future generations, I love the work I do for the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation in supporting our firefighter colleagues in Ghana to improve their Road Rescue skills”.

Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I wanted a structure career and I wanted to help people. I like the people I get to work with and the vocational nature of our role

-What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

Best day was being offered the role as the Assistant Chief and finding out both Grahame and I were going to be promoted. Worst day was rescuing a young man from a fire who later died in hospital and realising he was friends with some of the people I knew.

Mum, former office worker and firefighter

Beata Maciorowska joined in 2009 at Banbury,after a meeting with the Polish community, attended by representatives of the fire service. She is so passionate about the job that she moved to Faringdon to be closer to the fire station as an on-call firefighter. "I never thought I'd be a firefighter as I never liked to get wet and dirty. But at the same time, I grew to love the challenges of the job. She has two little girls and likes motorbikes.

Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I love rushing to emergencies and the tough training that allows me to help people.

What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter? The best day in my career was when my crew rescued a man from a fire. The worst, when we went to an injured deer that had to be put down.

 

 

The love birds at Henley fire brigade

Jason Evans and Liz Ward met at a Youth Theatre Group called YAT in Teddington back in 2013 when we were in a play together. Jason first joined in 2010 and left in 2012. Then he re-joined and Liz decided to join at the same time. They completed their basic training in April 2017. The couple like drama and acting, as well as sport. Liz is a keen rower and Jason takes an interest in rugby, football and cricket.

Picture: Henley Standard

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I joined because Jason kept saying how interesting and rewarding it was. I was always intrigued by the service but never thought I would be good enough. When the opportunity arose we both applied and have never looked back. The incidents we go to are so varied you could be called to anything from small animal rescues to Road Traffic Collisions.

-What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

Most days are really good days. It’s always nice when you go out and help someone. The worst days are the incidents where you do everything you can but you can’t take the pain and loss away.

The retired officer and keen photographer/film maker

Clive Durbin joined Wheatley Fire Station in 1982, worked as a firefighter and later became a Training and Resources Officer (filming, taking pictures and producing training materials). Now that he's retired he intends to spend more time with the family, including grandchildren. He will take up his hobby of restoring and building classic motorcycles. "I care about people. I despise social inequality and people being looked down upon because they do not fit the social norm (whatever that is). We are all different and I believe we are all capable of achieving wonderful things given the right opportunities. I have seen the difference the fire service can make to people’s lives by giving them the opportunity to see a life that they may not have previously had access to. Our work with the Phoenix project is a good example of what we can achieve with children on the edge of exclusion." Clive supports the Fire Fighters Charity and has done a charity bike ride from Oxford to Bonn in memory of a colleague killed while cycling.

-Why did you join? What do you like about it?

The company that I worked for moved into Wheatley and the then officer in charge came recruiting for on-call firefighters to add to the stations personnel. I thought it might be interesting so put my name forward and was accepted. That turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. Wheatley had a fantastic team spirit and even though I was not a ‘Wheatley boy’ I was accepted without question. What I soon learned was how compassionate and caring the crew were and how determined they were to make a difference. That ability to make a difference to people’s lives, the team spirit and camaraderie coupled with the developmental journey that I went on are probably the things I liked most. I believe that I am a better person by having joined the fire service.

-What was the best day and worst day in your career as a firefighter?

Tricky one that. There have been so many best days (virtually all of them to be honest). Taking charge of Wheatley Fire Station is right up there but my proudest moments are when we receive thanks for helping people through their difficulties and on the occasions where we help to save someone’s life.

Thankfully there have not been many worst days that I can think of but my first fatality was not particularly pleasant – it did however change my outlook on life. I realised that no matter how bad a day you think you may be having someone else is having a worse time and that I should always count my blessings, appreciate what I have and never think life is against me.

Would you like to become an on-call firefighter? Find out more here: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/call-firefighters

 

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