Villagers in Pewsey got a taste of life as a firefighter last week.
They tunnelled through confined spaces wearing breathing apparatus and used hydraulic cutting equipment on a wrecked car as part of a recruitment evening held at the village fire station.
Currently there are only nine on-call crew members at the fire station but ideally there would be 16, so people who live and work in the village were encouraged to go along and find out what the job entails.
Watch manager Chris Wootton, who is in charge at the fire station, said: “I think one of the main reasons that we have a shortage here is because of work commitments.
“A lot of people have to go outside of Pewsey for work because there aren’t that many employers here and they have to balance work and home life.”
On-call firefighters make themselves available to respond to a pager when a 999 call is made locally and cover is needed at all times.
Contracted hours vary, but on-call personnel usually make themselves available for between 48 and 120 hours per week.
After going through the application process, which includes fitness, written, practical and medical assessments, potential firefighters will undergo five weeks of training.
The next intake is in September and Mr Wootton is hopeful that some of the ten people who attended the evening will apply and be ready to join the Pewsey crew by then. It will then take the new recruits two years to be classed as fully qualified.
Mr Wootton, who has worked at the station for 30 years, said: “The black and white rule is that you have to live or work within five minutes of the station to but we can be a bit flexible.
“Even with the low number of firefighters here crew moral is really high. It’s a fantastic job, you get to learn new skills and give something back to the community.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had where people always appreciate the work you are doing.”
This is the first time the station has tried a recruitment evening where people have been able to tackle a range of firefighting skills. It was run off the back of the success of Have a Go at Carnival which saw 12 youngsters gaining practical experience.
“I’m really pleased with how many people turned out,” Mr Wootton said. “We leafleted the village but it was very much an unknown quantity but the response has been fantastic.”
If you are interested in being a firefighter in Pewsey visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/workingforus