It’s not until your chimney’s on fire that you really appreciate what a welcome sight nine firefighters can be! And then you realise that you recognise some of the faces underneath the helmets and fire-retardant suits are those of your neighbours and friends, who have transformed into heroes…
Our chimney fire was the catalyst for the idea of taking the portraits of the firemen and women of Saxmundham Fire Service. I already knew David, the watch commander, who asked me if I could take a portrait of the whole fire crew in front of their new fire appliance. I jumped at the opportunity to be involved but also asked if I could take a portrait of each individual firefighter.
I don’t think people always realise that a lot of those that work for the fire service are retained firefighters that have day jobs, just like you or I. They are local members of the community that do an amazing service – and you might not appreciate them fully until you really need them.
This was certainly the case for me – and I was so grateful for the help that Saxmundham Fire Service provided in my hour of need. The sound of your chimney roaring away like a jet engine is quite terrifying and having the Fire Service turn up in a short space of time was a huge relief. These men and women acted in such a professional manner and quickly dealt with the fire – and once the commotion had died down, I realised that while I might not be able to put a name to every face I saw, I certainly recognised each of them.
Retained firefighters contribute greatly to the fire service, however, it is can be very hard to recruit the right people and unfortunately there are not enough volunteers. This seems to be the case up and down the country, as there is a shortage of retained firemen and women nationally.
This series of photos celebrate’s the hard work and dedication of firefighters across the country, who readily put their lives on the line to save and protect others.
Watch Commander Dave Kersey,
Crew Commander Peter Nicholson, works at sizewell B.
Crew Commander Dan Jay, Assistant manager at a fiberglass component factory.
Firefighter Jon Ross, works at Sizewell B
Firefighter Trevor Churchyard, Commercial vehicle mechanic
Firefighter Jason Naylor-Richards, works at Sizewell B
Firefighter Louis Johnson, Site foreman for a groundworks company
Firefighter Mark Lye, Manager at Suffolk Coastal Norse
Firefighter Tania Robinson, Full time mum