Rafer Joseph, Station Manager, at Whitley Wood Training Centre
Day in the life/ what’s a general day for you?
There is never a normal day. I am Station Manager and head up incident command – how we respond. I am responsible for training, assessment and development for incident command across Berkshire, against national standards.
I liaise with service delivery through operational assurance and I am also responsible for organising team training. Specifically this includes driver training, from fire engines, officer response driving to HGV, 4x4, fork lift trucks and specialist driving that requires different qualifications.
I am also a Fire Investigation Officer, investigating after serious incidents and reporting back on the cause, working with Thames Valley Police. I am also responsible for physical training and organise training sessions, keeping it fun for the teams.
My role allows me to work across the South East region, including Kent, Hampshire, Sussex and Buckinghamshire, liaising with my counterparts in those services.
Working for the fire and rescue service is my first proper job, and I will spend my whole career here. I was a semi professional athlete before, competing in decathlons. I was living in Germany and was looking to move back to the UK and had a friend in the fire and rescue service in Basingstoke. I explored the Forces who are also a big supporter of health and fitness, but quickly realised I could continue training whilst working for the fire and rescue service. This was important for me as I was at the peak of my athletics career and needed time to train to continue competing.
The benefit for me was the shift system. It allowed me to have time off to do my athletics. I also have job security which is reassuring as I was moving back to the UK and planning to have children. The pension was also a bonus.
My first engagement with the Fire and Rescue Service was a visit to Slough Fire Station, where I was shown around by the team.
On 22 March 1993, I joined and have not looked back. From the first day until now, I have not had a day I would want to change.
I understand the benefit of the role for many is being able to serve the community, but for me it was about the flexibility the role gave me.
My team was my second family; I was on the same Watch and Station for 20 years before I went for promotion. I have most definitely gained a new circle of friends.
My Station Manager suggested I should go for a promotion and I went through the promotional process successfully and was appointed as Crew Manager at Maidenhead Fire Station. My progression continued and I was appointed Watch Manager. I worked as a Watch Manager for a number of years, acting up as Station Manager throughout this time. This allowed me to understand the responsibility required as a Station Manager.
In my spare time I continue to coach athletics.
How do you most regularly work with the community?
I am passionate about encouraging more diverse applicants. In my time as a firefighter I have spent time in youth clubs and sports centres, encouraging youngsters to consider the Service as a career.
I am still very much an ambassador for getting people interested in the fire and rescue service. Involvement with the community is important, particularly face-to-face.
To find out more about the campaign, please click here.