New West Sussex firefighters take on challenge in aid of charity

The newest firefighters in West Sussex have taken on a 24-hour endurance test in aid of charity. Photo: West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
The newest firefighters in West Sussex have taken on a 24-hour endurance test in aid of charity. Photo: West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s newest recruits have taken on a 24-hour endurance test in aid of charity.

To prove they are 'more than ready for life as a firefighter', the 12 recruits wore sets of breathing apparatus continually from 5pm on Thursday (November 14) until 5pm yesterday (Friday, November 15)

A fire service spokesman said: "Ahead of the challenge all the team underwent extensive training on the safe use of breathing apparatus to make sure they were fit and ready to take on the challenge.

"Working in teams of two, the recruits powered through the night on minimal sleep, before heading out to meet residents during the day on Friday to raise money for the three charities they are supporting: The Fire Fighters Charity, the Air Ambulance, Kent, Surrey & Sussex, and Macmillan."

The fundraiser comes as the recruits mark their 11th week into their 13-week initial training course, which will see them 'deployed to a number of different stations around the county upon completion'.

Jack Davis, one of the new recruits, said: “It’s actually quite strenuous when you’re on air, especially when you’re doing a physical activity, it can be very demanding.

The new recruits begin their breathing apparatus challenge. Photo: West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

The new recruits begin their breathing apparatus challenge. Photo: West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

"But completing a challenge like this means that we build up that familiarity with the equipment so that when we are faced with an emergency situation, we will feel totally at ease.”

Fellow recruit Faye Casburn said the realisation of becoming a firefighter is 'very daunting but extremely exciting'.

She added: “Half of the challenge was that we were super tired, but together we got through that and worked as a team to support each other.

“Being in that very confined space with the mask on and breathing in is not the most comfortable, but it is important that we are confident using the equipment as it could one day prove to be a lifesaver.

“We’re now in week 11 of our 13-week training course, so it’s sadly coming to an end."

Jim Mackay, course commander, said it has been 'customary' to organise a fundraising event 'towards the end of a wholetime recruits course' for a number of years.

“The sense of teamwork and the bond they have built up over the last 11-weeks has gone a long way to prepare them not just for life on a fire station, but preparing them to be a firefighter in the communities they will serve," he said.

“Logistically, this 24-hour breathing apparatus event has been a challenging event for them, but they have undertaken their training with real dedication and they have done exceptionally well.

“But their training course isn’t quite over yet, and despite the fundraiser being underway, they still had other training exercises to complete during the challenge. On Thursday evening they completed a road traffic collision training exercise alongside other firefighters from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.

“During the day on Friday they got out and about meeting residents to talk to them about the charities they have been raising money for, and they have received some real support from businesses and residents alike.

“They have been blown away by the support they have received for their fundraising efforts, and are incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated to help them reach their funding goal.”

You can support the fundraising effort by donating online here.