Olly - the firefighter

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“I wanted a job that I knew I'd be able to get time off to surf as well”


There’s a few of us out there who came down to Cornwall on holiday and never went home. Olly is one of those individuals. He left his life behind, up country, as we say and he’s been here ever since. That was 22 years ago.

We all enjoy a holiday by the coast and sampling the lifestyle that those who live here enjoy. But the reality of that is we have to work to live here. Olly at the time, took whatever work he could find just so he could stay here. After a few years working various jobs he felt he needed something a little more secure but struggled to find a job that would give him enough time off to surf. There are very few and far between such jobs down here. A large proportion of work here is seasonal, making it even tougher to find that secure position. Anyhow, Olly got wind that the Fire Service was recruiting and he thought he’d apply. He got an interview, passed that and then was offered a position. Then the hard work really started, the training. His words not mine. He had no idea just how tough it was going to be. When you look at Olly, you see a strong powerful guy that could easily cope with any type of physical training that is thrown at him. He still remembers how tough it was to this day. Nothing like he’d ever done before.

I was privileged enough to be given access to a behind the scenes look at what goes on at the Fire Service. Penzance Fire station was the location that day and that is where I was first introduced to Olly and Green Watch. I had a safety briefing first before I was given the chance to photograph and document “a day in the life of a firefighter”. I was informed that I’d been cleared to go out on a shout (a 999 call) with the guys that day if it happened, so I was really wishing for that bell to go off throughout the day.

Olly’s day is a varied day outside of the 999 calls. There’s always plenty of work to do in and around the station. Kit inspection, cleaning duties, training programs and many different training scenarios. The sole purpose of these exercises are to ensure his safety, the safety of the crew and to further ensure that the kit they take out on a shout functions the way it should.

It’s not often a photographer gets the opportunity to shoot behind the scenes with the emergency services so I have to thank Simon and Jimmy at Cornwall Fire and Rescue Services for arranging it all and for Olly to step up and form part of the project. The 999 bell never did go off that day but I was grateful for the opportunity anyway.

I’d just like to make one final point here. Don’t forget that Olly and his colleagues put their own lives on the line to save others each and every day. Real life professional heroes…..

Thank you Olly…


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