A knock at the door changed everything

A dedicated firefighter has spoken of his pride at keeping communities safe and says he loves his job so much he volunteers to be on-call in his spare time.

Five years ago, father-of-three Andrew Herron was relaxing at home when a knock at the door changed everything.

He was greeted by one of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) longest serving wholetime and on-call firefighters Tony Bird.

Tony was looking to recruit some on-call firefighters to Chopwell Community Fire Station to help keep the community safe.

Andrew, 38, had spent time in the Forces when he was younger and was interested in a change from his normal 9 to 5.

After attending an open day at the station just a few minutes from his house in High Spen, Andrew took the plunge and applied to be an on-call firefighter.

Andrew fully embraced the role as an on-call firefighter, getting involved with the community and keeping his local community safe by giving fire safety talks.

After 3 years as an on-call firefighter, Andrew had already got a taste of life as a firefighter so decided to apply for a whole-time position.

He left his full time role in financial security and now works as a whole-time firefighter at West Denton Community Fire Station.

But, Andrew is so passionate about keeping people safe that even in his spare time, he still volunteers as an on-call firefighter at Chopwell Community Fire Station.

The father-of-three said “When the pager goes off, you just drop everything and go – I’m only a three or four minute drive from the station but there is already someone at the station as a few live in the surrounding streets.

“And then we just head off and deal with whatever incident we have been called to and then before you know it its back to making the tea or putting the kids to bed.

“It’s different from being a wholetime firefighter because you spend much more time in the community and you might be called to your neighbour’s house or know the family from school it’s very close knit here.”

Andrew never looked back after his initial chat with Tony that day on his doorstep and always knew that becoming a wholetime firefighter would be the end goal.

He said “If you’re interested in becoming an on-call firefighter just go for it, don’t doubt your capability you can always work on weaknesses and get better.

“It’s so rewarding to see how much difference you can make in this role to your community, we see the positive outcomes of our work every day because we live here and it’s great to see.”

And today (Thursday), Chopwell Community Fire Station’s Station Manager is praising Andrew for his work in the community.

Station Manager Jon Anderson of TWFRS said: “The life of an on-call firefighter is incredibly rewarding because you live in the community.

“We’ve got firefighters who have grown up in the community and are now keeping the people of Chopwell and the surrounding village safe and that’s great to see.

“It’s a tighter knit group than any other watch I’ve seen but it’s because not only do they work together, their kids go to the same school, they might live on the same street or work together in their 9 to 5 role.

“We’ve opened up the opportunity to become an on-call firefighter to encourage more people in the area to get involved and I can’t wait to see who joins us.”

On-call firefighters work part time for TWFRS, usually around their day job.

They are trained to the same high standards as whole time firefighters; however, they are only called to the station when they are needed to respond to an emergency.

You need to live within 8 minutes of Chopwell Community Fire Station, you must be 18 years old and you must have flexibility in your work and home life to be able to apply.

TWFRS are hosting an open evening (22nd March 6pm-9pm) and open morning (18th March 10am-12pm) at the station to give residents a taste of what life is like as a firefighter.

Visit TWFRS website to find out more about the role and how to apply.