WE need you - that's the message from Hampshire Fire and Rescue, which is looking for part-time men and women at Ringwood and Burley fire stations.

The service says a lack of volunteers could be putting lives at risk and is calling for people who live and work in the area and have the time and commitment to be part of a team to become potential lisavers in their own communities.

The service has launched a recruitment drive to boost the numbers of retained firefighters.

New Forest North group manager, Carlton Kerr, who is co-ordinating the campaign, told the Forest Journal that retained firefighters were an integral part of the community.

"Being a retained firefighter is not just about attending emergencies, it's about teamwork and helping to reduce the risk in the local community through educational initiatives."

Recruitment and retention of retained personnel has been a growing problem.

Changes to working practices, high property prices, ageing populations and a drop in local employment has had a considerable impact on the availability of personnel during the working week.

Retained firefighters need to live or work within four minutes' travel time of the fire station. They receive a retaining fee and additional payments are made for any courses, educational initiatives or incidents they attend. Around 60 per cent of all fire appliances are crewed by men and women on the retained duty system and they carry an electronic alerter in case of emergency.

Firefighter at Ringwood and architectural designer Sue Perry has been working as a retained firefighter for three years. "Being a retained firefighter is really enjoyable as it enables you to work closely in a team environment with colleagues you can depend upon in a variety of difficult situations," she said.

She added that despite rigorous training and the demands of learning new skills, being a firefighter was satisfying, rewarding and challenging.

Watch manager at Burley fire station Graham Tucker echoed Sue's sentiments and said: "I run my own property maintenance business and have been a retained firefighter for more than 34 years.

"Whilst running a business and providing retained firefighter cover does require a certain degree of pre-planning and flexibility the practical and interpersonal skills I have acquired during my career, without doubt, benefited my business."

Ringwood drill nights are on Wednesday between 7pm and 10pm.

Burley drill nights are on Tuesdays between 7pm and 10pm.

For details, call 02380 626772 or click on www.hantsfire.gov.uk