Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

I hope you enjoyed reading last month’s coverage of “A day in the life of a Firefighter”, which I have the pleasure of trying to follow and expand upon over the coming months with a regular article. I’ll be giving you further insights into the range of incidents our crews are attending in your area, across Ipswich and across the county; highlighting incidents of note.

 suffolk fire and rescue, ipswich fire service

To start with, I’ll introduce myself and where I fit into SFRS. 

I’m Jon Southgate - a Station Commander - with my role being that of Deputy District Commander of the South District. To put that into context, we have 35 fire stations in Suffolk; 4 crewed 24/7, 2 crewed daytime hours Monday to Friday & 29 crewed solely by On-Call (OC =part-time) personnel. The 4 + 2 fire stations also have an OC crew who get called in when the main fire appliance is called out - so you can see that we rely so much on our OC colleagues!

That’s where it all started for me, becoming an OC Firefighter at Princes Street fire station nearly 32 years ago. Back then, I was running my own business making reproduction furniture and restoring antiques, which was really satisfying but when a mate joined Princes St OC, he absolutely raved about it which intrigued me enough to follow suit and give something back to my community. This meant making some sacrifices.  The first one was my full beard had to go – moustaches were allowed but nothing more! More than that was a commitment to being available for emergencies from work, home, leisure and sleep! Being my own boss meant I could down tools and make up the time later – sometimes working through the night to get export orders ready!

After 2 ½ years OC and encouragement from my Station Commander, I joined SFRS full time, was posted to Haverhill, then Ipswich and worked my way up through 4 promotions to have the privilege of now running 5 fire stations; Needham Market, Hadleigh, Nayland, Holbrook and with a great sense of pride, Princes St. I work a flexible duty system so can still be called out from home or office to attend incidents.  However, now as a supervisory commander, another role I have is that of a Fire Investigator (more of that in future articles).

Happy Christmas, stay safe & I’ll see you in the New Year!