Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (OFRS)
OFRS is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s Community Safety Directorate. Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (OFRS)
OFRS is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s Community Safety Directorate. In 2015 the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service saw a fundamental change in operations. Three counties became governed by one regional control room, and the nearest fire engine in the area sent to an incident. Control rooms communicate directly with a fire appliance’s on-board computer.
DEDDINGTON FIRE STATION (A8)
Station Area and Call Outs
Deddington Station’s immediate area is 120 square miles, from Rousham Gap in the south, to Adderbury in the north, and from Baynards Green across to the A361 Chipping Norton Road. In addition the crew regularly provides back-up support to Banbury and Bicester stations, and occasionally further afield when there is a major incident, such as extensive flooding. Deddington handles an average of 250 calls per year. These include house fires, barn and field fires, shop and factory fires, flooding, rescues and road traffic accidents.
Retained Duty System Firefighters - On Call Professionals
Deddington Fire Station is crewed by firefighters on the Retained Duty System (RDS). They carry alerters, activated by a control centre near Reading. Any time of day or night, the crew may be called upon to turn out rapidly - within seven minutes - in response to an emergency. Our firefighters can be called in from home or from work. One moment they may be at home fast asleep, then the alerter sounds, the next moment they are on station, in fire kit, climbing on to the fire engine.
The role of firefighter is exciting and rewarding. Every shout is different; you never know what to expect, and there is great camaraderie between the team members. There is a great adrenaline surge as the appliance leaves the station, with blue lights flashing and two tones on, the crew not knowing what situation they may be about to encounter, initial information is often sketchy. No two shouts are ever the same.
Community Fire Safety
A major part of every Oxfordshire County Council firefighter’s role is to participate in making our communities safer as part of our 365alive vision. This can include speaking to vulnerable groups, giving presentations to schoolchildren, carrying out home fire risk assessments and fitting smoke detectors.
The social aspect of being a member of the fire crew is a very important part of the job: the crew arrange an annual family barbecue and camp at a temporary campsite in Clifton, in addition to various Quiz Nights, Race Nights and family days. Deddington's firefighters are very much part of village life, frequently giving up their own time to attend fetes, family days and supporting local initiatives. They are active fundraisers for local and national charities, such as Children in Need and the Firefighters' Charity; and our charity car wash day is always popular.
Ensuring that the fire engine is available 24/7, 365 days per year can be a struggle at times, especially during holidays and when the crew have busy work periods. A total of 12 crew members allows greater flexibility for all the team, and fewer hours of commitment required by each person.
Recruiting RDS firefighters is a challenge for many stations. There are various causes for this. There are not many employers in the villages, farms employ fewer people, local residents tend to work outside the area, many commuting great distances, some only living in the village at weekends.
In the current economic climate, with heightened financial pressures and competitive marketplaces, employers are not always able to release their staff. The burden on the employer is unpredictable and erratic. The station statistics can show averages, such as how many calls per year, how many during the working day and the length of an average call. The fire service management recognise this is an issue and will offer reassurances to employers where possible, such as greater flexibility with contracted hours or an 'opt out' during peak busy periods for their business. Whilst out on a shout the incident commander has the prerogative to organise a relief for a particular crew or individual where required, so if a firefighter needs to get back to work by a certain time, it can be arranged.
Several members of the crew at Deddington are self-employed. The job of an RDS firefighter can fit in well for people working from home or running their own business. Being a firefighter provides the opportunity to experience a whole new environment, to mix with other people, to be part of a team and to learn new skills, as well as earning additional income.
Further details on recruitment are on the OFRS website.
The women firefighters at Deddington will all tell you what a fantastic job it is, rewarding, challenging and enjoyable. Women often hesitate to put themselves forward, thinking 'I won't be strong enough' or 'it's a man's job'. Well, you don't know until you try it. You do not have to be an Olympic athlete to be a firefighter, you do have to be reasonably fit and be prepared to undertake additional fitness training if required. Fitness assessments are carried out, and if there are areas that need work you will be given guidance on how to improve and to reach the required level.
Deddington was proud to be the first station in Oxfordshire to take on a woman firefighter, and now Oxfordshire now has an increasing number of women firefighters. And Deddington was the first station in the county to have a woman in charge: Anne Waters took over as Sub Officer in May 2002; she has now retired but went on to be active in Networking Women in the Fire Service. Anne was awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours List 2007. In 2015 Rachel Freeman (above), now a granny, retired after 18 years' service with the Deddington crew.
Could you become a retained firefighter?
The contracted hours that you agree to provide can be adapted to suit your lifestyle and commitments. If you work locally, you may be able to offer day cover, if you work away from the village you may consider some night and weekend cover whilst you are at home. The contract does not have to be full cover, the service is flexible, if you have a varied shift pattern, if the time you have available has to fit around a school timetable, family arrangements or other work commitments, it is still possible. Work-life balance is important to us all, and everyone needs some free time. We ensure this is taken into account when agreeing contracted hours.
'Have a Go' Days
From time to time Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service holds open days or awareness-raising days. At these events members of the public are invited to learn more about the role of the firefighter, what it means to work on the different duty systems, wholetime and retained, have a go at the various selection tests, learn about the selection process, get some fitness training advice and meet serving firefighters.
All of our crews are highly trained in order to fulfil the demanding role and diverse nature of the incidents they attend. This training is delivered in many ways including lectures, DVDs, practical training, and area or brigade exercises. Initially firefighters attend our training centre for two weeks in order to learn the basic skills and following this they attend two weekends of training to cover; pumps, ladders, hydraulic cutting gear and chemical incidents. RDS crews drill every Tuesday night for two hours and run through many different skills such as: pumps, ladders, hydraulic cutting gear, chemical hazards, working at heights, working in/near water, first aid, railway incidents and many more topics.
If you are interested in joining us, come up to the Station on a Tuesday evening between 7 and 9pm and speak to our crew.
The History of Deddington Fire Station and its Crew
There has been a fire station in the village since 1900. The original site of the station was at Goose Green, where they had a manual pump. It was later moved and the pump was then kept under the town hall. The third site was in Earls Lane, at this time the pump was a coal driven steamer, towed by horses. Since about 1930 the fire engine has been motorised. In 1952 the station moved to its present site in Banbury Road, the fire engine was then an ATV box van which towed a trailer pump with a hose reel.
And see the pics on the DOL Gallery.