Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service celebrates contribution of on-call firefighters

photo of graduates, staff and dignitaries at the on-call graduation ceremony

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has held an event to celebrate the contribution of on-call firefighters and formally welcome all those who have joined the Service in the past three years.

A total of 24 graduates attended the On-call Firefighter Graduation Ceremony, which was held at Easthampstead Park on Monday, 31 January.

The ceremony was open to all on-call firefighters who joined RBFRS in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as well as celebrating the wider dedication and commitment of all of the on-call firefighters within the Service. Each of the on-call firefighter graduates was presented with certificates in front of family, friends and colleagues.

On-call firefighters are an integral part of RBFRS, working with other members of the Service who work across a wide variety of roles and responsibilities – responding to emergencies and performing vital work in the community, such as Safe and Well visits and school visits and promoting wider community safety.

Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA), said: "On-call firefighters live, work and are part of the communities they serve. Although they have other jobs and roles, they give up their time to train and serve as firefighters when called upon. 

“As well as delivering an excellent service locally, they also help us to provide fire response and prevention when they are needed across Royal Berkshire. They really are our local superheroes and reflect RBFRS’s commitment to keep fire stations at the heart of their communities. 

“The On Call Firefighter Graduation Ceremony provided RBFA with a fantastic opportunity to formally recognise and applaud such a great and essential part of RBFRS. The outstanding work they’ve undertaken over the last three years has also been recognised. I wish all our on-call firefighters a long and fulfilling career with RBFRS, and on behalf of the people of Royal Berkshire, sincerely thank them for the work they do.”

RBFRS has 90 on-call firefighters across the on-call fire stations in the County. Of these, 46 joined the Service in the last three years, demonstrating the ongoing commitment from the firefighters, Service and Fire Authority to keeping local communities safe.

On-call firefighters, Richard Ball from Crowthorne Fire Station, Chantelle Russell from Mortimer Fire Station and Charlie Wood from Hungerford Fire Station won the award for Outstanding Contribution in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. They were praised for going above and beyond, contributing to their station, colleagues and the community.

Richard was commended for showing tremendous dedication to the Service, providing vital support at community events and school visits to help drive the recruitment of on-call firefighters.

Inspiring the next generation of firefighters, Chantelle earned the award due to her work with children across Berkshire schools as well as a proactive approach to training and development, which includes physical tests, and numerical and mechanical reasoning among more.  

Safe and Well Visits are an essential part of a firefighter’s role. They offer the most vulnerable in the community health and wellbeing advice, smoke alarm checks and a fire risk assessment. Charlie Wood was celebrated for his proactive approach to engaging and protecting the community by carrying out many Safe and Well Visits.

Chantelle Russell, winner of the 2018 Outstanding Contribution award and on-call firefighter, added: “I felt so proud hearing about the work that we do and the sacrifices we make for the job - I love serving the community and helping other people. I feel really surprised and honoured to win the award for Outstanding Contribution tonight, it really means a lot to me.”