BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 13:38 GMT
Diary of a firefighter
With the Fire Brigades Union's decision to call off their first two planned strikes, what's the atmosphere like in fire stations? Hereford firefighter Nigel Stroud will be keeping a diary of the working day in weeks to come.

Saturday, 26 October

1800: The first half of the evening was fairly quiet for myself and the other firefighters, catching up on paperwork, fire reports and various other bits of bureaucracy. Some of the guys had training to keep them up to date with street names, areas, and maps. ...........................................................

20:00: One of the guys is an ex-chef so he prepared a meal, we thought it would be our 'last supper' before going out on strike, but as it happens it won't be necessary as yet. We're very relieved about that, it's been a stressful couple of weeks. ...........................................................

Nigel Stroud - middle, back row

1200: We got called out to our county hospital because the winds had started to pick up and set their automatic fire alarm off. There was no obvious fire but we had to search the building and make sure it was safe. The other crew at the station had a small kitchen fire in a residential home they'd forgotten they'd put the meat in the oven and that had smoke-logged the building. ...........................................................

1400: I got called out to an outlying village to a transformer on a big pole - a cable had come adrift from it and was lashing about in the wind and sparking off everything that touched it. That was quite dramatic - like a miniature thunderstorm because it was pouring down with rain and high winds, so we had to clear a few people away from local properties. ...........................................................

1500: On the way back to the station we had a couple of automatic fire alarms go off at a local engineering firm - their fire detection system involves laser beams going across the warehouse and because of the high winds the building was moving so breaking the contacts - that's quite a common occurance in high winds. ...........................................................

1500-1700: Called to a couple of telegraph poles which had ignited. Again because of the high winds, branches were coming off the trees and brushing against cables moving around in the wet, causing them to short and set light to the poles. There's nothing much we can do with those things - we can use carbon dioxide extinguishers making the area safe and move any people away from the area, but we basically have to wait until the electric board turns up. ...........................................................

0630: In another residential home we went to rescue an elderly gentleman stuck in a lift. He was quite shaken. I think it sparked off by a power cut but it did take a while for anyone to raise the alarm. He was quite alarmed at being stuck in a confined space so we calmed him down and had to wind the lift back up. ...........................................................

0700: Traffic accident, luckily nobody badly hurt. ...........................................................

0830: A large mature tree had fallen on a house. Although it hadn't collapsed the building there was a bit of a safety risk to the occupants because it was very precariously balanced. With the aid of a neighbour who is a forester we cleared all the dangerous branches away and finally got back to the station about 10:30 this morning. ...........................................................

11:00: Get home to find one of the trees in my front garden has come down across the pavement so I'll need to deal with that before I get to bed!

...........................................................

Wednesday, 23 October

We are quite understaffed at the moment and our usual team of 18 is down to 10, some junior officers are on leave and one is on a course.

One-sub officer is in charge, supported by three leading officers. However, one is on detachment, one is on leave and the other is on long-term sick leave so that has meant myself and another junior officer are presently acting up as leading officers. ...........................................................

0900: The shift starts and the first hour this morning was spent dealing with administration - working out rotas and leave for the firefighters while the rest of the watch checked and tested the equipment. Various standard tests always need to be completed especially with the breathing apparatus and the vehicles.

The night watch had had to attend a road traffic accident and at the end of their shift returned to the station with specialist equipment which needed to be cleaned and serviced.

Hereford is the only full-time station for the area, the other stations are part-time, so it does mean that we have quite a lot of equipment.

The station has three front-line appliances (fire engines), one turntable ladder, one emergency attend vehicle (two person cutting crew and water carrier) and an off-road vehicle primarily used for the rescue boat.

As it was the first day of the day-shifts I had to contact our control centre to inform them who would be doing what and where, and which appliances were available and being used. ...........................................................

1030: One pumping appliance had to go to a local primary school. We show them all about safety, smoke alarms, the dangers of fire, what to do in an emergency and who to call. It is all part of stage one and two of the education system. ...........................................................

1330: Back to the station for lunch. As a personal duty, I am the station mess manager and as the cook is also off work at the moment, I organised the food restock for the night shift. ...........................................................

1430: After lunch the station commander came to talk to the watch about acceptable behaviour and code of conduct during the strike. After that we went out to maintain local hydrants as a certain quota have to be checked over during the year.

And a rare occurrence for us - we were called to rescue a cat.

This one was trapped on a construction site. Slightly less of a stereotypical job than being up a tree but believe me we don't get calls like that very often.


Nigel Stroud has been a firefighter for nearly 15 years. He joined the Hereford service after years of desk work at a bank and now, aged 40, he is part of the Green Watch team.


Key stories

Features and analysis

How they compare

In pictures

CLICKABLE GUIDE

AUDIO VIDEO
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes