More retained firefighters are needed for Longridge station

Longridge firefighters.
L-R Crew Manager Oliver Pye, Crew Manager Dave Welsh, ff Alex Barton, Watchmanager Mark Hardman, ff Taylor Bannister, ff Alan Baines, ff Mick Farmer and ff Tom Hollis.
Longridge firefighters. L-R Crew Manager Oliver Pye, Crew Manager Dave Welsh, ff Alex Barton, Watchmanager Mark Hardman, ff Taylor Bannister, ff Alan Baines, ff Mick Farmer and ff Tom Hollis.
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Firefighters at Longridge retained fire station are appealing for more men and women to join them.

They are also asking businesses and companies in the town to allow employees to become retained firefighters.

Cover is particularly needed for daytime hours, for which there is a five-minute call-out, so anyone interested must be able to get to the fire station on Whittingham Road within that time period.

At the moment the town boasts 11 retained firefighters, comprising 10 men and one woman aged from 18 to 50.

Crew manager Oliver Pye said: “We are particularly looking for people who can do day cover and alternate weekends. We are struggling for daytime cover.”

The Longridge crew is called out up to three times a week on average, day or night, and each incident can be from half an hour to six hours in length, the average being one hour.

But Longridge crew members are currently having to commit to extra hours due to the shortage of day cover.

Oliver says they attend car crashes, water rescues, rope rescues, the odd house fire, quite a few chimney fires and assist the ambulance service with break-ins. They can also be sent anywhere in Lancashire, being on standby for Preston and Burnley.

“In the past we have had a lot of people interested and when you tell them what is required, they go back to their employers and they won’t let them out,” said Oliver, adding: “We would like to know if there are companies in Longridge who are interested in letting staff out.”

While he is aware companies face stringent times, he says there are advantages for the employer, in that employees learn valuable skills to be used within the work environment, which the employer receives for free.

All Longridge’s current retained firefighters have other jobs and all except one are self employed.

Oliver, 24, a fitness instructor with his own gym, joined to support the community and says becoming a retained firefighter can lead to being taken on full time, which has just happened to one of the town’s crew who has been with them for two years.

Oliver enjoys the variety of call outs saying “each job is different” and he commits to 120 hours a week, covering days and nights and alternate weekends.

Watch manager of 10 years Mark Haslam, 54, is a window cleaner who became a retained firefighter 20 years ago, five years after moving to Longridge. He said: “It is something I was always interested in, also to learn new skills, and I moved to Longridge and there was a fire station here and I joined. It is a challenging job and it has done me a world of good.”

But he warns anyone considering retained firefighting needs an understanding family as it “becomes a big part of the family”.

“When you join, your family joins as well. That is the biggest commitment,” he said, adding you never know when you are going to be called out. An example of this was Boxing Day last year when they were out all day helping with flooding in Burnley.

Retained firefighters receive the same training as full timers and anyone interested in joining needs GCSEs in maths and English, good fitness and general health and a good head for heights.

Oliver added: “It is a good experience. I have lived in Longridge all my life and it is giving something back to the community.”

Anyone interested - who will be able to agree the number of hours they wish to commit to and are also paid for those hours, be it 60 or 120 - should go along on drill night, any Monday from 7pm-9pm, preferably around 6.30pm.