A TEACHING assistant at a village primary school may be called out at any moment to tackle a fire.

For Cathy Chesworth, 49, is an on-call firefighter for the Hereford and Worcester Fire Service, as well as working at Ewyas Harold Primary School.

Her alerter means that she can be called out to the fire station within five minutes to join the rest of the crew to attend an emergency in the village or surrounding area.

Cathy is just one of the on-call firefighters who make up more than 60 per cent of all the operational firefighters.

All 27 fire stations in Herefordshire and Worcestershire include on-call firefighters – men and women who are aged 18+, who live or work within five minutes of the fire station, and who can commit to being on-call for a minimum of 40 hours of each week.

Cathy said: “Keeping the on-call fire engine on the road is a challenge in a small village. Recently when our numbers were down, we all did extra to help keep the pump on the run, even if we’ve missed out on family time.

"But my kids and my husband are ok with that as they know it’s to help local people and possibly even our friends."

Cathy added: "So many parents of children who have now started school are a massive untapped reserve who could give so much to their community as an on-call firefighter, and get an interesting job with a shift pattern that suits them perfectly, in return."

Amy Jones, 32, is another on-call firefighter who lives in Ewyas Harold and works at The Laurels Veterinary Group in Hereford.

After serving four years as an army dog handler, including a tour of Afghanistan, and then retraining and qualifying as a veterinary nurse, she recently joined up as an on-call firefighter and is currently in training.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to being operational in a few months, being part of this team and handling the excitement and responsibility of having the chance to save someone’s life."

Darryn Edwards, 30, joined HWFRS at Eardisley Fire Station as an on-call firefighter in 2017.

He combines this role with working at Herefordshire Meats as a butcher.

Darryn said: “I’d really recommend becoming on-call firefighter - more often than not, when the fire service is called, somebody is in a desperate situation and only we can help."

On-call firefighters receive the same training and use the same equipment as wholetime crew.

To learn more about becoming an on-call firefighter, visit www.hwfire.org.uk/on-call.