Hertfordshire firefighters increasingly leaving the service to drive trains

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They’re following a different track as level of interest wanes

HERTFORDSHIRE firefighters are leaving the emergency service to drive trains, it has emerged.

The county council operates a network of fire stations across Hertfordshire – staffed by whole-time or on-call firefighters.

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But now it has emerged that a number of firefighters have been ‘leaving for the railways’.

Hertfordshire's chief fire officer Alex WoodmanHertfordshire's chief fire officer Alex Woodman
Hertfordshire's chief fire officer Alex Woodman

Data supplied to the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows that already this year (2023) there have been two firefighters who have left to work on trains.

Last year (2022) there were six and the previous year (2021) there were a further six – totalling 14 firefighters in less that three years.

‘Greater money and more days off’ are said to be among the factors tempting firefighters away from the county’s emergency service.

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And the issue has been highlighted by the county council’s executive director of community protection and chief fire officer Alex Woodman.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the county council’s overview and scrutiny Mr Woodman told councillors: “The attraction and retention of firefighters is an ever increasing challenge for us.

“We’re not seeing the level of interest that we would have seen, perhaps five years ago.

“And we are seeing scenarios where we do lose trained professionals, because they earn more money driving trains.”

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And in a further statement later issued to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by the county council, Mr Woodman added: “There are many different reasons why firefighters leave for other jobs, but with the recent increases in cost of living we know that pay has become more of an issue.

“Most firefighters are dedicated to their career, but our firefighters are highly trained with a lot of transferable skills, so it’s not a surprise that they can get good jobs elsewhere if they choose to.

“Firefighters are highly valued staff who play a vitally important role, and we’re very aware of the risks posed by losing skilled staff to other sectors.

“It takes a lot of time, effort and money to recruit and train firefighters due to the skills and qualities needed, and we don’t want to lose that skill and experience to other employers.

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“We hope that this year’s nationally agreed pay rise will help encourage more of our valued firefighters to remain with us.”

Mr Woodman raised the issue of firefighters leaving for the railways at a recent meeting of the county council’s overview and scrutiny committee (September 15).

Data later provided to the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows a breakdown of the 46 firefighters who have left the service to take up ‘alternative employment’ since 2021.

In 2021, it shows that of the 18 firefighters who left for an alternative employment, six went to work on the ‘trains’.

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In 2022, there were 19 firefighters who left for other employment – with six moving on to ‘trains’.

And so far this year, the data shows nine firefighters have left for alternative employment – including two on the ‘trains’.

You can learn more about jobs with Herts Fire and Rescue Service on the official website.