THE LARGEST ever intake of on-call trainee firefighters, including some in Basingstoke, has started at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

There were 26 people who began the eight-day training course on Monday, 20 November, in comparison to the average eighttrainees that the force has attracted in previous years.

The three women and 23 men will be providing vital cover across the county in 16 stations in busy areas such as Basingstoke.

The trainees will learn ladder, hose and fire ground techniques .

Academy station manager Jason Boh said: “Having a new intake of on-call firefighters is great news for the people of Hampshire. These dedicated lifesavers fit being a firefighter in between other jobs and family commitments, and come from all walks of life.

“These people are part of the fabric that holds every fire service in the country together and the world-class training they get at the Academy helps make them the best.”

To be eligible for the paid role, people must live or work close to a fire station and be able to get there within just a few minutes.

There are already other trainees signed up for upcoming courses.

Eastleigh station manager Paul Illman, who is one of the people leading the recruitment campaign, said: “Being an on-call firefighter gives a person the chance to help protect their community, develop the confidence that comes with learning new skills and the knowledge that they are part of a team.

“You may have never thought of being a firefighter but have just the skills we are looking for.

This is a job where no two days are the same and you will make a difference.”

New trainee and fashion graduate Jo Gamblin, 40, is returning to work after 12 years as a stay-athome mum.

She said: “I had never considered being a firefighter before but after finding out more about it is sounded like something I could really enjoy and be good at.

“My children are proud of my new job and the on-call system works around the hours you can do.”