Firefighting is more than 999 call-outs

Firefighters James Voller, left, and Richard Cappell
Firefighters James Voller, left, and Richard Cappell
RTA in New Road, Swanmore

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AS the nation anxiously observes the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe it’s easy to overlook the day-to-day activities of our firefighters.

Fareham fire station’s four watches provide cover across a sizeable area 24 hours a day.

But the team could be called upon to go much farther field to tackle major blazes.

As Fareham fire station’s commander Sandy Thomson explained, they do much more than simply respond to call-outs to fires.

He’s a man with 21 years’ service and he’s in charge of the 28 people at the station.

He tells me there’s a growing emphasis on fire prevention and keeping an eye out for the welfare of people in the community.

The disabled, the vulnerable, the bed-ridden or people with other mobility problems – any of these could be at risk.

There’s also an increasing number of elderly people.

Today, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service gets information from many other agencies.

Not just from other blue light agencies like the police and ambulance service, but local authorities, health organisations, social workers and charitable organisations.

These often identify individuals who are potentially at risk.

Perhaps they are people living alone or forgetful elderly people who could leave taps running or cooker hobs burning.

Then there are those who hoard combustible material like newspapers and magazines, heavy smokers, drug users or mentally impaired people.

A home visit by the fire service and a bit of timely advice could prevent a serious situation developing.

Dave Higgins, another key member of the Fareham team, told me more about the risk assessments and decisions he has to make on site or at road traffic accidents.

For example, an empty burning building wouldn’t necessarily warrant firefighters going inside.

The building can be replaced, people can’t.

High pressure lances can penetrate walls and allow the fire to be doused from outside without risking the lives of the firefighters on his watch.

But if there are people trapped inside a blazing building, Dave and his crew are fully equipped with breathing apparatus and protective clothing to deal with the situation.

They are also trained in rendering first aid until paramedics arrive.

The firefighters at Fareham are into charitable activities too.

A fire engine pull recently netted more than £900 for the Fareham Food Bank and the Fire Fighters Charity.

They have sponsored barbecues and visits to the station by school children, and informative school visits.

For more information on the fire service or to find out about careers, go to hantsfire.gov.uk/safeandsound.