Wickhambrook Fire Station…
Wickhambrook Fire Station is crewed by ‘Retained Firefighters”.
Our retained firefighters are members of the local community, who have been trained as firefighters, but have full time jobs and work within a short distance of the fire station. Please find out more about us and how we look after the safety of the community.
The Station Officer would be pleased to hear from you if you are interested in becoming a member of the Fire Service or wish to contact us.
Please do not use the numbers below for emergencies.
If you would like more information about Wickhambrook Firestation, organising an event you would like us to attend or are interested in joining the Fire Service either at Wickhambrook or elsewhere, then we would be pleased to hear from you.
What is a Retained Firefighter?
Retained firefighters are members of the local community, who have been trained as firefighters, but have full time jobs; they could be builders, decorators, vehicle technicians, ambulance paramedics, prison officers, farm workers, carpenters, office workers, factory workers etc and live and work within a short distance of the fire station. In a nutshell, subject to being physically fit anyone can be a Retained Firefighter.
Retained firefighters are sometimes referred to as ‘part time’, but they are in fact ‘on call’ 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. We do not exist to back up full time firefighters; we are the front line professional firefighters, responding to any incident in our area, saving lives, property and protecting the environment.
What we do
The Fire and Rescue Service gets called to a number of emergencies and these include, Fires in properties, farms and business premises, Fires in vehicles and farming equipment, Chimney fires, Road Traffic Accidents, persons trapped in machinery, calls resulting from adverse weather conditions, Chemical Spillages, Humanitarian assistance and Liaising with other emergency services.
Do we get paid?
Retained firefighters get a monthly salary which is the retainer fee, we get paid for the weekly training sessions and also for the calls that we attend.
How do we get called out?
We carry personal pagers which alert us to a call, When a 999 call is received, fire control at Ipswich Fire HQ operates our pagers, and we drop what we are doing to respond to the fire station. Once we are alerted the Fire Appliance is on the road and making its way to the incident within 5-6 minutes of the 999 call.
Training and Fitness
We attend a 2 hour training session each week, sometimes this extends to 3 hours and are normally called upon 5 times a week for emergency calls. You need to be physically fit, and have good eyesight in both eyes. There is a huge shortage of retained firefighters nation-wide. Have you ever considered a career as a retained firefighter? We have vacancies at the station for people who can provide cover Mon-Fri during the day.
The History of Wickhambrook Firestation …
It could be said that Wickhambrook owes its fire Service to Adolph Hitler! As before 1939 there was no fire fighting unit in the village. The Officer responsible for the organisation at that time was Don Thompson, Captain of R.D.C. Fire Brigade and under his direction an Auxiliary Fire Service Unit was formed, based at Clopton Hall comprising mainly of personnel employed by Justin Brooke Ltd. This unit served through the war years and progressed to the National Fire Service and from converted milk van to NFS personnel tender and trailer pump. On the 1st April 1948 it passed to the control of the Suffolk and Ipswich fire Authority, and became a retained station in B Division with Headquarters at Bury St Edmunds.
Modernisation was gradual and in the 1950’s the station was supplied with its first water tender, a Dodge with front mounted pump carrying 400 gallons of water for initial use at incidents. An appliance bay had been constructed in a farm building, and a nearby small office equipped as a watch-room. Call out was still by telephone, call bells installed in members homes, a day siren operated from Headquarters was the next improvement, also a running call facility which meant the Brigade could be alerted by a member of the public. These measures however were still very much of the ad hoc nature, and much more ambitious plans were being prepared. A plot of land nearby at Clopton Hall was acquired and in 1966/67 building of a new modern fire station began, completed in 1967.
The new station and all the then latest improvements: an appliance room, kitchen and utility room, a drill yard and a tubular steel drill tower. At last Wickhambrook had a new and well equipped station and a modern fire engine. The new station was officially opened on 1st July 1967 by Mrs Edith Brooke of Clopton Hall who recalled that in the early days of the 1939/45 war she had been the telephone girl. The ceremony was attended by various dignitaries, including the Vice Chairman of the Suffolk and Ipswich Fire Authority and the Chief Fire Officer who presented Mrs Brooke with a plaque bearing the badge and Coat of Arms of the Fire Service. The station was open for the rest of the day for viewing by the general public.
The combination of a modern station and up-dated appliance was a great boost to the personnel and as radio and two sets of breathing apparatus had been installed, the capabilities of the station had been much enhanced. The upgrading however was not finished, if in the Fire Service it ever is. In 1973/74 the system of calling by siren and call bells was phased out. In its place the Multitone system was installed, relying on radio and personal pocket alerter. As time went on this was improved, by now the station has the Phillips PAX system so that the first fireman to arrive answering a call has a printout from the watch room printer giving the type of emergency, location, map reference and any other relevant details. The station now has a modern fire appliance, fully equipped to deal with all kinds of incidents, fires, road accidents, rescue, both human and animal, first aid, with portable resuscitation sets, and many other essential tools.
All this is operated and maintained by a small band of retained fire fighters who leave their homes or places of employment to answer the call day or night, besides the obligatory two hours drill and training per week. Wickhambrook is certainly fortunate to have this kind of service in the village.
Plucking two incidents out of hundreds attended in its history we find the disastrous floods of September 1968, 3.5 inches of rain in 24 hours and the fire appliance engaged for 26 hours, and more recently the disastrous fire at Badmondisfield in 1995, when so much of the historic mansion was saved by the efforts of fire fighters over two days.
An outstanding feature in the history of the station is the fact that the late Sidney Bishop was officer in charge of the Station from its inception until his retirement in 1970, a remarkable record!