Oxford United FC set up training camp at Didcot Fire Station

Didcot Fire Station replaced Oxford United’s training ground when players teamed up with local firefighters for a series of physical agility tests on Wednesday 15 December.  

Premiership counterparts might be used to training breaks in exotic parts of the world, but the Kassam Stadium based team had very good reasons for staying local.

The purpose of the day was to gain an understanding of the physical requirements of becoming a firefighter. The tests focussed on teamwork and communication, similar to skills needed in football.

The football club and county fire service are building on their community partnership, launched last month to promote anti-discrimination, equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Players tested their strength and dexterity by attempting a number of challenges including a ladder lift, carrying firefighting equipment, and a casualty ‘drag’ evacuation test.

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “This was the first of a number of initiatives planned for coming months. We’re going to be working closely with Oxford United to bring firefighters and footballers closer together to understand each other’s role and discuss the benefits of tolerance, showing how diverse communities can thrive, and taking a strong stance against discrimination.

“This will be delivered through different activities and live discussions between footballers and firefighters, jointly promoting our respective campaigns: Fire Doesn’t Discriminate and Neither Do We, and Oxford United’s support for the football community’s Kick it Out initiative.”

Karl Robinson, Oxford United Manager, said: “It's a fantastic initiative and we are proud to be working with the fire service. There are lots of similarities between what we do and how the fire service operates, but the central one for me is that everyone is welcome. There are some exciting ideas for us to work together on and I look forward to being part of that in the coming months.”

Rob MacDougall has already recorded an interview for Oxford United’s YouTube sharing his personal passion for equality, diversity and a no tolerance attitude to discrimination.

His attitude is reflected in Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s ongoing recruitment campaign.

Rob explains: “If you want a rewarding career as part of your local firefighting team, we want to hear from you. We aim to become an employer of choice in parts of our community where we are currently underrepresented, whether this is gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

“We want to attract people who will bring a diversity of life experience and an understanding of the many different cultures, communities and religions that make Oxfordshire such a vibrant and diverse place to live.”

For further information about becoming an on-call firefighter, and other employment opportunities in Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, email fire.recruitment@oxfordshire.gov.uk


Ladder lift test

The ladder lift test simulates the individual physical demands of lifting the head of a 13.5m ladder back on top of a fire appliance.

Confined space test

The confined space crawl is a test of the candidate’s ability to cope with dark and confined spaces and has only low-moderate physical demands, although good levels of flexibility and body awareness will be an advantage.

Equipment assembly

The equipment assembly test is designed to test manual dexterity. It involves assembling and then disassembling a piece of equipment following a demonstration by the safety officer.

Equipment carry test

The equipment carry test is essentially a shuttle test that is designed to replicate some of the physical demands involved in setting up a water relay station to supply water to a grassland fire.

Casualty ‘drag’ evacuation test

The casualty evacuation requires the candidate to walk backwards (they will be guided by a safety officer) dragging a 55kg (75% of the weight of an average person) dummy around three sides of a square.


Oxford United players and staff, and firefighters in the image above are:

Jon Walker, Dan Harris, George Franklin, Owen Giles, Erion Zabelli, Ibby Sankoh, Joshua Johnson, Gatlin O’Donkor, Enrique Tiamuna, Amari Davis-Stephenson, Matt Jarvis.


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