A firefighting family affair

A kind-hearted father who spends his days transporting children with specialist educational needs is now saving lives outside of work – as an on-call firefighter.

Dan Fox lives in High Spen with his two children and fiancé, and he will now keep communities safe as an on-call firefighter in Chopwell.

The 32-year-old wanted follow in his dad Paul’s footsteps to be a firefighter since he was a child but recruitment just never came at the right time.

Instead he found another job he loves, working as a driver for a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) school in Gateshead.

In the role, Dan spends his days making sure young people are able to pursue their education without worrying about school transport.

But the father-of two always wanted to do more and achieve his dream of finally becoming a firefighter – just like his dad.

Earlier this year he saw Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) had opened their recruitment for on-call firefighters.

They were recruiting for staff at Chopwell Community Fire Station, round the corner from his home and where his brother Kallum already works as an on-call firefighter.

Dan was successful in his application and now has called on others to follow their dreams – even when it seems your chance has gone.

The father-of-two said “My love of the fire service started when I was a kid, I joined the young firefighter association as soon as I could and I loved just every minute of it.

“My Dad started his career in Chopwell many years ago, he has since left TWFRS to go down to West Yorkshire but he loves it and just recently got his long service award.

“And also my brother is also an on-call firefighter at Chopwell so it really is a family affair; it’s great to know that we have this unique bond from working in the same station.”

When asked what it is about joining TWFRS that has made it such a dream of Dan’s, he said it is the pride of the role.

He continued “I love the fact I get to help out the people I know, it’s such a tight knit community round here.

“Being an on-call firefighter makes me feel really proud that I can give back and be a role model for my kids.”

Today (Tuesday) Station Manager for TWFRS’s Chopwell Community Fire Station, Andy Nelson, is welcoming Dan on behalf of the service and encouraging people not to give up on their dreams.

Station Manager Nelson said “Chopwell and the surrounding villages have such a special bond with the fire station it’s so different from anywhere else in our region.

“Its lovely hearing about Dan’s family connections to the fire service inspiring him to continue pursuing his dreams even though he wasn’t able to previously.

“Dan has had many opportunities to get a feel for the fire service, through the young firefighters association, and through stories from his dad and brother, I just hope we can live up to the expectations.”

On-call firefighters are attached to one station in the immediate vicinity of their home and work address, often fulfilling the role alongside other full-time employment.

On-call and wholetime recruitment are now closed for 2023, but wholetime recruitment will be reopening later in 2024.