Hayley’s dream role helping serve her community and build lifeskills

Hayley McCann outside Portadown Fire Station.INPT27-099
Hayley McCann outside Portadown Fire Station.INPT27-099

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has launched a major recruitment drive for community (part-time) firefighters in 13 Fire Stations across Northern Ireland.

For the first time ever NIFRS is recruiting for a new daytime contract when firefighters must be available for at least 40 hours per week, normally between 8am and 6pm (Monday to Friday) in order to respond to emergency calls.

To help provide an insight into the role of a community firefighter we spoke to Portadown-based Hayley McCann:

How long have you been a community firefighter?

I have been a Firefighter for almost two years now.

What does your role consist of?

As a community firefighter there is no such thing as a typical day

Hayley McCann

When I first started as a firefighter I received initial training, which has been supplemented with specialist courses and training and exercises at the station.

This training has enabled me to safely attend many types of incidents - including house fires, wildland fires, road traffic collisions and many varied types of special service calls.

I also have the opportunity to give fire safety advice to local clubs, schools and community groups.

Outline what a typical day would consist of when you are available for fire calls?

As a community firefighter there is no such thing as a typical day.

One minute I could be going about my daily business and the next I could be heading to a house fire, road traffic collision, water rescue or animal rescue.

One thing that is typical is that there is never a dull moment being a community firefighter!

What made you join Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service?

As clichéd as it sounds, I have always wanted to be a firefighter since I was a little girl, therefore I feel very blessed to be in this career.

I love being able to help people in need and this job gives me the opportunity to help on a daily basis and serve my community.

What is the difference between a community firefighter and a wholetime firefighter?

Community and wholetime firefighters both do the same job - we both attend the same types of incidents and carry out the same roles.

Wholetime firefighters are full-time firefighters who are based at the station and work shift patterns. Community firefighters may also hold a full-time or part-time job or could be self-employed but they also respond to calls when alerted by pager.

Do you find that the role of a retained firefighter suits your lifestyle?

In general, yes!

I make my lifestyle work around it. But at times it can impact on my lifestyle.

For example, if I have made plans and then the next thing my pager goes, my plans are then thrown up in the air.

However, through the satisfaction and fulfilment of the job this more than makes up for any disruption.

What are the most enjoyable parts of the job?

There are many different things that I enjoy about this job, especially the friendships that I have gained with my fellow colleagues.

I also enjoy doing the job itself and I get a huge sense of fulfilment in knowing that I have influenced a situation at an incident that has potentially saved someone’s property or even their life.

What are the most challenging parts of the role?

As yet I have been fortunate enough not to have attended any incidents that have resulted in fatalities.

However, I know that being a firefighter in my local town has the potential for me attending incidents that could involve family or friends and I am sure that would be very challenging to deal with.

Would you recommend becoming a community firefighter as a career option?

Absolutely - this job offers a huge sense of satisfaction and enjoyment.

It also gives me the opportunity to play a vital role in my local community and has the benefit of providing a second income.

Is there anything that someone should be aware of when applying to become a daytime community firefighter?

I would advise potential candidates to make sure they can respond within five minutes, so they are able to commit to being available within five minutes of their station so they can attend fire calls when required.

What are your interests outside of work?

Travelling, going to concerts and playing sports.

I’ve played competitive sports my whole life, from football to boxing (where I won an Ulster title) and gaelic football (at club and county level).

I love trying new things and I am currently taking part in a dance competition for charity.

Have the skills that you have learnt with Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service helped to benefit your life outside?

Most definitely, first of all working with many different characters and people of different backgrounds has really developed my people skills.

Working as part of a team has also resulted in an increase in my confidence levels, which I have found very beneficial in both my other job and with my sports teams.

I was recently able to use my newly-acquired first aid skills to give assistance to a member of the public who had fallen off his motorbike.