Meet Kirsty Fox in Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Meet Kirsty – Fitness instructor and On-Call Firefighter

Photo of Kirsty Fox

What attracted you to the role of firefighter?

Whilst working as a fitness instructor and sports massage therapist, I was looking for a job that I do on my hours off between clients. Now, as a working Mum, I find that I can organise my hours around my daughter's childcare due to the flexibility of the rota system.

How did you find the recruitment process?

I had previously looked into applying to be a Firefighter but didn't think I would be fit enough or right for the role, but how wrong I was! Having built up fitness through my job I was able to complete the fitness testing required and commence training as an on-call firefighter with Surrey Fire and Rescue, and I can honestly say I love every minute of my job!

How much training do you do and what skills have you learned?

I recall my first 'big' fire, a large fire at a plastic piping warehouse. I was incredibly nervous as we were called to a small fire in the open, however on our approach could see a huge black plume of smoke in the distance. As one of the first appliances there I got to do so much; setting up the hydrant, getting to use jets to put the fire out and even a BA (breathing apparatus) wear. Due to the fantastic training I had received I felt confident in what I had to do at that incident.
There is no other job where you get to undertake great training courses either - I have been lucky enough to do and see things that most people would pay good money to do!

How long did it take you to become fully trained?

I started my recruit training in September 2016 and I passed out as a Development Firefighter in December, so roughly 12-16 weeks of initial training. Training took place over a long weekend back then, so usually Thursday to Monday each week.
Then, once you are on station, you are required to complete your Development Folder over a couple of years to become a Competent Firefighter.

What is your greatest achievement as a firefighter?

I don't think I can name a greatest achievement, but at the end of every incident, knowing you have put all your training to good use and done everything you can to help is a massive sense of achievement.

What do you enjoy most about the role?

The role of a firefighter is so varied, I can honestly say I wake up each morning and look forward to going to work! We get to meet so many different people in this job, all with different needs, backgrounds and stories and I feel a great sense of pride in being able to support my local community. There is so much more to being a firefighter than putting out fires, and every day is different in this job.

How does your commitment to SFRS impact your life - both positively and in more challenging ways?

I have such a great support group now of friends and colleagues from the Fire Service, its almost like a second family. Sometimes it can be a juggle, but the positives for myself and my family far outweigh this!

How do you balance your other work commitments?

My primary employment as wholetime firefighter has a rota system of 2 days, 2 nights and 4 days off, so I have a few days where I can be available for on-call system. The great thing about the on-call role is the flexibility to be available around your work and family commitments.

What do your friends and family think of you being in the fire service?

They are all very proud of my role as a firefighter, especially my little girl who loves that her Mummy is a firefighter and loves the fire engines!

How does being a firefighter compare with other jobs you've done?

I previously worked in an office and a gym, both as a fitness instructor and sports massage therapist. Both very different from my role as a firefighter now! It allows me to use my fitness and experience in a positive way and making a positive impact in helping others.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a retained firefighter?

Go for it! Don't be put off by thinking you cannot commit to the hours or not fit or strong enough – whilst you do need to have a certain level of base strength and fitness, it is doable!