Hi Iím Dave Skinner back
I have been a fire-fighter with the Kent Fire and Rescue Service at Halling Fire Station since June 1986.
In the time I have spent at Halling Fire Station, I have felt proud to serve the communities around our fire ground.
When I first joined, our fire ground was slightly larger than it is now. It used to start at the Ham Hill roundabout on the Larkfield side of Snodland and stretch along the A228 to the bridge over the motorway at the top of Sundridge Hill Cuxton. And from the banks of the river Medway, through Cuxton up Bush Road out into the country, to the edge of Cobham.
Many trends have changed in the 18 years I have been a fire-fighter. The amount of chimney fires we used to attend when I first joined was quite a few compared to now, and with the commencement of the community fire safety work that each fire fighter does, i.e. fitting smoke detectors, talking to school children on school visits etc. the number of house fires now are greatly reduced. Itís sad that the number of Road Traffic Accidents, (RTAís) still seem as many as they always been. Our fire ground has also grown in terms of population. New houses popping up in all areas. The latest being a new estate being built on the site of the old paint factory at Bush Road in Cuxton. Still thatís progress for you.
Anyway after I joined in 1986 I, like all other fire-fighters, had a 24 month probationary period, in which I was tested for competence at every stage. On 14th October 1987 I passed my BA (breathing Apparatus), test. This consisted of a 2 week course, the first week was at Sittingbourne, and the second week was at Maidstone. On the 23rd October 1987 I qualified as a brigade driver. As you can imagine October 1987 was a busy month for me. For the next five years I concentrated on my promotional exams. Passing Lff Exam on 30th April 1990, and the Subís exam on 26th April 1992. I always believed that at the time the promotional exams were the right way to go to learn the technical knowledge needed to become a good fire-fighter. Today training for the trade of fire-fighter is different to the way it used to be. Todayís fire-fighter trains to a high technical standard, with lectures nearly every week, and composite drills to include subjects that the lectures covered.
After 1992 had passed I felt I needed to go further with my training and on August 18th 1993 I was registered as a student in the Institute of Fire Engineers. And on the 10th March 1994, I passed the Preliminary Certificate Examination of the Institute. From 1988 through to 2003 I held a First Aiders Certificate and in 1994, I attended and passed a course on administering Oxygen.
From 1994 until 2001 our time was kept busy with the 3 yearly intervals for First Aid and EFAD driving courses. There was also various other courses along the way, including the brilliant Vector Training course I attended at the Brigade Training Centre in Maidstone.
When Mick Palmer retired in 2002 I was promoted to Leading Fire-Fighter on ďAĒ crew.
As I said at the beginning I have been proud to be a fireĖfighter at Halling Fire Station, and serve with a good and dedicated crew of people. As any fire-fighter knows that the crew that you work with is like your second family, and like any family, you have your ups and downs. But when its time for the team to come together and get the work done, I think the fire-fighters at Halling have shown both dedication and professionalism to the tasks they do. Iíve always believed that when you become a retained fire-fighter, you are privileged to belong to an elite club, and I thank my lucky stars I was allowed to be a member of that club.