VITAL JOB: Trainee firefighter Andrew Metcalfe is inviting people to sign up for a recruitment taster session at Barnard Castle’s emergency hub later this month
VITAL JOB: Trainee firefighter Andrew Metcalfe is inviting people to sign up for a recruitment taster session at Barnard Castle’s emergency hub later this month

PEOPLE with a desire to join one of the country’s leading on-call firefighting crews are being invited to a taster session later this month.
Barnard Castle’s firefighters proved their worth when they were runners-up in a national breathing apparatus competition in 2015, ahead of a number of full-time crews.
Now they are looking to take on recruits and are inviting hopefuls to an open day on Saturday, July 24, to see if they have what it takes.
Along with hoping to find recruits for Barnard Castle, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is also looking for people to join on-call crews at Middleton-in-Teesdale and Stanhope fire stations.
Watch manager Colin Burns said the taster session would include all of the trials that potential firefighters are required to complete.
This includes dragging a 50kg casualty around a series of traffic cones.
Mr Burns said: “There is also an equipment assembly test where they follow verbal and pictorial instructions. What we are looking at is manual dexterity, problem solving and ability to follow instructions.”
Another test will be the ladder climb.
Mr Burns said: “We have had people come in the past who have been afraid of heights but they have overcome that with coaching.”
Another test involving a container looks at how recruits perform in a confined space in darkness.
The final challenge involves carrying equipment and unreeling 25 metres of hose to check fitness.
On-call firefighters, formerly known as retained fire-fighters, differ from full-time crews in that they usually have employment elsewhere and attend the fire station once a week for drills and attend incidents only when on call.
They also undertake proactive safety and wellbeing visits, and carry out duties at the station, testing equipment and other tasks.
Mr Burns said the ideal recruit would be a shift worker who could attend the station during the day.
Of the types of callouts the station attends. Mr Burns said: “We do not have many house fires. We get a lot of road traffic collisions. Teesdale is very attractive and we get an influx of people who don’t know the roads.
“We also do river rescues of people and animals. We are classed as a wildfire station and we have the equipment to deal with that.”
All of the dale’s firefighters are emergency medical responders, Mr Burns said, and vehicles are equipped with oxygen and a defibrillator.
He added that firefighters are frequently the first responders in the dale and offer medical assistance ahead of an ambulance’s arrival.
Not only is Barnard Castle one of the country’s leading on-call crews, but it also one of the most forward-thinking.
Mr Burns said: “We are about equal opportunities. We were the first station in County Durham to recruit a female and we have had a number since.”
Among those to encourage people to take part is second-generation firefighter Andrew Metcalfe, whose father Stephen served at Barnard Castle Fire Station for ten years. The 22-year-old, who works shifts at Middleton-in-Teesdale firm Technimark, said: “I’ve loved it. I’ve been here for over a year now and I just want to do more of it.”
He hopes to become a full-time firefighter after qualifying.
Those interested in attending the day can turn up at the fire station between 10.30am and 1pm or email Alan Hobson at
They can also visit