Isle of Wight's first fire service chaplain

The Rev Roger Whatley, chaplain to the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service with Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter The island's fire service has never had a chaplain

An Isle of Wight priest has been appointed as the first chaplain to the island's fire service.

Revd Roger Whatley, from Newport, will provide counselling for firefighters to help them deal with the difficult situations they face.

Rev Whatley said: "It's a challenge working amongst people who put their lives at risk every time they go out."

The priest has also been trained with the Red Cross so he can travel with the service to incidents.

Chief fire officer, Steve Apter said: "He might then be able to offer instant support to those who have been caught up in a fire themselves, or whose family or friends have been injured or lost their lives."

The island's rescue service has 226 staff, 113 of which are retained firefighters and 93 of whom are full-time or officers.

Revd Whatley, who has already visitied most of the island's 10 fire stations, said he had been surprised by the willingness of firefighters to share their feelings.

He said: "Sometimes if you've been through a stressful situation it's good to talk about it and reflect on what's happened, it can help people deal with the stress."

The service operates 12 frontline fire engines across the 37km (23 miles) long and 21km (13 miles) wide island.

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