Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Careers - WHOLETIME FIREFIGHTER

Paul Hoey Position Wholetime Firefighter Red Watch, Ballymena Fire Station
What attracted you to a career in Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service?
My father was in the Service and often told me the interesting and exciting things he experienced as a Firefighter. I was at the Fire Station a lot growing up and got to know most of the Firefighters as friends.  I suppose it was only natural then that I applied for the first intake after my 18th birthday.
As your job can be very physical in nature at times, how do you ensure that you maintain your level of fitness?
I play golf as often as possible and I like to walk.  I try and keep as active as possible and get involved with lots of physical activities.
What do you enjoy most about working for Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service?
When I first joined I enjoyed the excitement each time I entered a building on fire or rescued someone.  That-s what the job is all about – rescuing and saving people-s lives.  I also get enjoyment from being able to pass vital fire safety information to members of the public through the many local community events we attend.  Outreach and trying to prevent fires happening in the first place is a big part of the job and I enjoy meeting and talking to members of the public.
Outline what a typical day is like for you?
My day starts at Ballymena Fire Station at 0900hrs when we, as the on going watch, replace those who have completed their shift.  My first duty is to make sure all the equipment is in working order. I am required to keep myself familiar with the working of those pieces of equipment by using them as I would at an incident, so there is a lot of ongoing training done throughout the day.
Part of my day also involves visits to schools to talk about safety in the home or to retirement homes to give the residents information regarding fire safety and what to do if they or another resident has a fire in their flat.
It-s important that I keep myself familiar with the Ballymena area and be aware of new housing developments and road closures that could affect the normal route to an incident.
All of these jobs are in addition to the main one of responding to 999 emergency calls.  We attend fires, road traffic collisions and specialist rescues such as flooding, chemical spills etc.  Each incident we attend is different but the main aim is to help save life and property.
Finally, before our shift ends at 1800hrs we wash and tidy the Fire Appliance and fill it with fuel so that it is prepared and ready for the next Watch to take over.
Do you feel you have gained any additional skills/qualities through your work as a Firefighter?
I have learned that it is important to be a team player, as Firefighters rely on each other for support in dangerous situations. I have learned to adapt to change as the Fire & Rescue Service has modernised in recent years and the job has evolved.
Through my work with the Fire Service, I have seen how difficult life can be for some young people and have, over the last 15 years, been a volunteer within the Community helping to encourage young people to reach their full potential.

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