A RECRUITMENT drive for retained firefighters took place in Henley last week.
The town’s crew is currently down to nine people — at least seven below the required quota.
Members of the watch gathered at Market Place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and they also targeted Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsburys supermarkets.
John Nixon, fire risk manager for South and Vale, said that the recruitment of and the retention of retained firefighters had become increasingly challenging.
He said: “This is about doing a bit for the community. It is interesting and varied, it is an avenue of something different and you see aspects of life that you may not see as members of the general public.
“I think people are worried about their primary employment and things also change due to pressures at home.
“We are really challenged during the week and at weekends. On weekday evenings we are okay.”
He explained that retained firefighters choose the hours when they are able give cover, either during the day or in the evenings. Many retained firefighters have jobs, but their employers will release them if there is an emergency call.
They are required to be able to reach the station within five minutes of an emergency call-out. The minimum age for joining is 18 — but there is no upper age limit.
Mr Nixon said: “Providing someone can pass a general physical and is at a reasonable level of fitness, we would look at each individual case on their merits.
“Firefighters have to come in two hours a week to do training, either on a Tuesday or a Wednesday night. Other than that, realistically all they are called in for is emergencies and maintenance.”
Adam Summers, 35, has been a retained firefighter for about three years.
The self-employed painter and decorator of Crisp Road, Henley, joined after seeing an advert in the Standard.
He said: “It is pretty easy for me to fit this in and it works quite well as I can be quite flexible.
“I normally give evening and weekend cover and work during the day.
“The training is brilliant. You get paid for everything you do and you meet a lot of people.
“You never know what you are going to be involved with. I can be at work one minute and then the next I am being called out to a house fire.”
The married father-of-three admitted sometimes things were hard to juggle, but added: “I wouldn’t change things. This is such a worthwhile job and getting involved with the community gives you the feeling of something that’s useful, plus you get paid.”
For more information go to www.oxfordshire.gov.uk