A new recruitment scheme aims to encourage applicants from all backgrounds and particularly under-represented groups to join the fire service.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service's fast-track development scheme aims to encourage people with proven leadership skills from all sectors to progress from firefighter to station manager in three years.

Successful candidates will not need to have previously worked as firefighters or have a background in fire and rescue.

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, said: “I hope the scheme will draw new perspectives and experiences from the brightest and best of Oxfordshire and beyond, who might not ordinarily have considered a career in fire and rescue being open or attractive to them."

For further information about Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’ direct entry scheme, including how to apply, please see the Direct Entry advert.

Alternatively, to discuss the role further, please email marcus.reay@oxfordshire.gov.uk or phone 07788 183050.

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Faisal Atcha, Kidlington Fire Station manager, said being a fire and rescue officer is hugely rewarding.

He said: “I am calling it the ‘big T’. The emphasis on team, teamwork, and camaraderie.

“The fire station manager is a crucial part of this. They lead, support and coordinate an array of highly skilled and motivated individuals to achieve a common goal: to keep everyone in Oxfordshire safe."

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He said there are a vast number of roles that fire station managers conduct, ranging from developing staff, to testing the latest rescue and communication technology, and engaging with local communities and businesses.  

“Responding to emergencies is part of the role, but most of the time is focussed on preparing and preventing incidents from happening in the first place," he said.

“The opportunity to join the service through the direct entry process is a fantastic one. If you think this might not be for you because you have not got a fire or emergency services background, please think again.

“The training and development support is second to none. Many of the skills and experience you have in your current roles are what we are looking for - working under pressure, leading teams, being innovative, articulate, setting and working to high expectations."

He added: “Taking the first step into something different is a big one, but you will be supported at each stage.

"Even though I did not join the service through a direct entry process, I was the first visibly different ethnic minority manager in my former service, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service.

“Being the first in anything can be daunting, but it is also exciting. Diversity brings a fresh perspective and with the support of your colleagues – and we pride ourselves on that in Oxfordshire – you help build on our forward-looking culture."

Mr Atcha said the key skills needed are the ability to communicate well with the public, colleagues and the many partners the fire service works with, persistence and resilience and knowing how to adapt.

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He said: "Expect the unexpected. You could have planned a full day to present a new way of working to colleagues but instead find yourself in the middle of an industrial estate, working with your team, your crew, to deal with a major incident.

“Not everyone wears a uniform or rides a fire appliance, but we all play a vital part in the jigsaw to help educate. And prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.

“At the same time, 24/7 we are at the ready, at a moment’s notice, to fight fires and attend incidents ranging from chemical spills to traffic accidents, even animal mishaps such as horses stuck in ditches!"