London Fire Brigade

Mark Whitfield, Firefighter

Meet Mark Whitfield, based at the Chelsea fire station, has been a London firefighter and Fire Rescue Unit (FRU) staff for six years.

He was previously a London Ambulance Service Emergency Medical Technician and continues to work for them part-time.

What do you do on a typical day?

As our station has a Fire Rescue Unit, we can get called anywhere in London and not just in Chelsea.

We have many luxury properties in our area which have their own fire alarms system and we are often sent out to AFA actuating (Automatic Fire Alarm).

Fortunately for the residents, most AFA's are false alarms. These alarms can go off accidentally if there's a fault or due to excessive dust during building works.

On any given day the call-outs can vary from fires and car crashes to people trapped in lifts.

Our specialist equipment helps us deal with casualties trapped under heavy vehicles, such as lorries, buses and trains. 

We might also get called to a line-rescue, which can involve rescuing casualties from height using ropes and rigging equipment.
Being a firefighter also involves actively promoting community fire safety, which means visiting local properties to ensure they all have working smoke alarms. 

We also check larger premises such as the Natural History Museum to ensure they are compliant with regulations and that we are familiar with the building layouts in case of fire.

What’s the best thing about the work you do?

The team work, the camaraderie and the variety of incidents we attend.

What is the most challenging thing about your work?

The amount of training that is required on an FRU station to keep up to date with all the extra equipment a Fire and Rescue Unit has on-board.

Not to mention all the line rescue equipment for rescuing casualties at height or who have fallen down deep structures.

What do you think it would be like to be in the London Fire Brigade 150 years ago?

A different world!  From what I've read there were a great deals of fires back then due to the lack of fire safety and fire retardant furniture. 

It must also have been hard for the firefighters to tackle a blaze with no breathing apparatus and less protective work wear.

How does it feel to be a part of a 150 year old organisation?

I am proud that the service has such a long and rich history. It's interesting to see how far we've come and how the Brigade has evolved. 

I'd love to be a fly on the wall of a station in another 150 years!


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