The firefighting cameraman

Philip Morse

It's not uncommon to hear colleagues under pressure talk about firefighting.

But Points West cameraman Philip Morse literally does.

When he's not on duty as a senior technical operator in Bristol, he's often on call as a retained fireman for Avon Fire and Rescue (AF&RS).

This means that, although he isn't a full-time firefighter, he is one of 18,200 people in the UK who respond to emergencies when their pager bleeps.

"I just stop what I'm doing and go to the fire station where I find out what the emergency is," Morse says.

So when he is available for AF&RS duty, "from wherever I am, the fire engine has to go out within five minutes of receiving the call," he explains.

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When a person has been rescued successfully that's good”

End Quote Philip Morse Senior technical operator

The Fire and Rescue Service say that retained firefighters provide emergency cover for 60% of the UK, and Morse is looking to set up a forum for BBC staff who do similar roles across the emergency services.

"There is a BBC corporate policy to support justices of the peace [JPs], special constables and members of the Territorial Army, so that's why I'm interested to see if anyone else does those activities during their time off," says Morse.

"There is counselling in place should we see something that is particularly bad, but when you come into your full-time workplace, the forum means we've got something in common to share."

Mutual benefits

Morse left a full-time job as a fireman at Bristol Airport more than 12 years ago, when he decided to pursue his childhood ambition to work in television.

But he took firefighting up again three years ago and is grateful for the support from his family and colleagues.

The service employs a pool of retained firefighters, so if he is too tired to go on AF&RS duty, he can make himself unavailable.

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Most of the work involves road traffic collisions”

End Quote Philip Morse

"I try and do lots of training at the BBC and fire service that overlap each other, such as health and safety management and first aid at work, so both get benefits out of it."

He also finds it rewarding to visit schools for both organisations, teaching TV skills and giving fire safety presentations.

Morse adds: "I wouldn't say that I have saved a life but I've been involved in rescues, and when a person has been rescued successfully that's good."

Supporting the locality

He explains that deaths caused by fires have decreased, due to more safety awareness and smoke alarms.

"Most of the work involves road traffic collisions. I've been to plenty of those - helping to cut people out of cars and providing first aid."

Maintaining fitness is key and there's a lot of skills to learn.

Morse recommends any people interested in becoming retained firefighters to contact their local Fire and Rescue (although the London service is only for full-timers).

"You get paid for each call-out but it isn't a job you do for money. You do it because you love it and because you're supporting your local town."


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