MORE on-call firefighters are needed across Wiltshire, to help in providing a fire and rescue service every hour of every week.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) is currently on the hunt for more on-call firefighters, and Salisbury crews in particular are in need of cover during the day and weekends.

From responding to emergency calls to working at open days and supporting the community, on-call firefighters get the same training as full-time staff, but their time with the service is based purely around their availability and other commitments.

“On-call are those who have other jobs or family commitments, but they carry an ‘alerter’ with them so if we get called out, they get notified to come in and stand by at the station, or they come along,” explained Salisbury Red Watch crew manager, Martin Waker.

To be a Salisbury on-call firefighter applicants must live close to the fire station, be able to work in a team, have a reasonable level of personal fitness, and have a strong desire to want to help residents and the community.

‘Have a Go’ days are regularly held in the Salisbury Fire Station grounds, to give the public a taste of what it means to be a firefighter.

Watch manager, Neil McConchie, who is in charge of Salisbury’s on-call recruitment, said: “We’re always short of on-call personnel, we can never get enough people to give us cover during the working day and weekends. We can’t cover the whole 168 hours of the week at the moment.

“It does not matter if it’s male or female, we just need this cover. To me it depends who applies and who has the best availability.”

As previously reported Home Office figures have revealed that since 2002, the number of on-call firefighters has dropped from just over 13,000 to around 12,200.

However a DWFRS spokesperson said that it is “hard to monitor” on-call recruitment data, adding: “With on-call recruitment it is completely dependent on hours - someone could apply to be an on-call firefighter who could offer 100 hours, or ten people could apply who could each do ten hours, which in turn affects our figures.”

Neil added: “[Fewer firefighters] is affecting the service badly because it is not just Salisbury – it is affecting mostly the on-call stations, and not just in DWFRS but all over Britain. Lack of personnel and crew is a problem all across the country.”

Talking about working for DWFRS, Salisbury firefighter Mark Crouch said:“When you get on with your team it is so nice, and building those good relationships means that we are able to work better. It is like a second family.

“When you get to help someone from a car accident in the middle of the night, especially when you have cleared and left that accident, it’s a real positive feeling.”