‘My beeper went off in the pool!’: Uni student combines degree with firefighting duties

Firefighter James Ridley-Jones, a student at The Universitry of Buckingham with colleagues at Buckingham Fire Station
Firefighter James Ridley-Jones, a student at The Universitry of Buckingham with colleagues at Buckingham Fire Station

A student at the University of Buckingham has joined the town’s fire crew to train as a firefighter.

James Ridley-Jones, 21, who is currently completing a degree in International Studies, is spending some of his free time training with the on-call crew at Buckingham Fire Station.

James started his application last summer when he saw a recruitment banner while jogging past the town’s fire station.

He hopes to complete his training in March.

On-call crew commander Michael Dunkley said: “Our on-call crew have pagers and notifications on their mobile phones – if we are notified about a fire we are expected to be at the fire station within five minutes of receiving the message, even if we are at home or at work.

“It’s not all sliding up and down poles.”

On James progress so far, Mr Dunkley said: “He is getting on well and taking a lot of information on board.”

James, who is on-call for more than 100 hours a week said: “I have had to hurry out of doors in the middle of the night, or just leave my shopping in the supermarket on occasions.

“The worst time was when I was in the Swan pool and heard the beeper going off – then I had to sprint out in my trunks, pulling my clothes on as I went. I don’t have a car either, so I have to sprint to the station each time, but fortunately I live in town.”

There are currently seven firefighters in the on-call crew who cover the north-western part of the county, which borders Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Last month the crew had 50 call-outs.

The latest part of James’ training is ensuring that he is able to climb ladders safely.

While James is able to attend incidents, he will need to be fully-qualified before he can participate in extinguishing the fires.

James added: “I have had a couple of interesting jobs so far including one where we took a couple of dogs to safety from a smoking house.

“I am technically on-call anytime that I am not at university .

“I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might be interested in becoming a fire-fighter to talk to me or one of the on-call crew, it’s incredibly worthwhile.”

If you are interested in joining the on-call crew, email recruitment@bucksfire.gov.uk to find out more.