Crew Commander Rob Cowling

"I joined the fire service by chance really. I was living in a village that needed on-call firefighters and one day when they came recruiting, they asked my dad if he wanted to join. He said no but thought it might be something I was interested in.

"At the time I was working a shift job in a factory and once I'd got into the on-call service and got a taste for it, I realised I wanted it full time.

"I knew I never wanted a 9 to 5 job. I'm practically driven and wanted to be part of a team. Having already learned a bit about the fire service, it just seemed right."

Rob cracked on with applications to different fire services and although was not originally accepted at Cambridgeshire, was taken on by London and later transferred back to his home brigade.

He explains: "The job has changed dramatically in the time I've been in and you have to be very adaptable. Even on a day-to-day basis, you may have your day planned out with activities and then something comes up or you get a call and it totally wipes your day.

"I'm a good people person with good one-to-one people skills; whether it's someone I'm working with, managing, or a member of the public.

"I'm very adaptable which makes me good at dealing with a variety of situations, which occur frequently when working in the emergency services. I've also got a positive outlook. We have to witness some things in this job which aren't particularly great but I'm always making sure I do what I can to be positive with the watch and lift them up if spirits are low."

For family man Rob, he has juggled his passion for the fire service with bringing up a young family. However, being a firefighter is about one thing: "It's about doing a job that is highly regarded and very rewarding. As a firefighter, you do good. It's not just about turning up and putting out a fire; it's also about talking to the person who's had the fire, putting up a new smoke alarm, speaking to their neighbours, and ultimately about keeping the community safe. You can go to a school and teach young people how to dial 999 or what to do if there's a fire in their home - that for me is so gratifying.

"The most rewarding thing about the job is going away from a situation - whatever that may be - with the satisfaction of knowing we've done good for a member of the public."

With young children and a wife at home, Rob has balanced family life with a demanding job.

He explains: "Having a young family and working as a firefighter has its pluses and minuses. With operational shift patterns, it means I get to do what some dads don't by often doing the school runs, cooking them dinner and putting them to bed. But sometimes it means at the weekends when other families go to the beach or have a summer holiday, we can't because of the way the shifts have fallen. You take the good with the bad and I really feel the way I have it, I get to spend more time with my children and am a big part of their life.

"They've never known any different and I always explain to them about the job. I don't think my wife worries - well, she never says she does!"

Having worked with numerous firefighters, Rob says it's important those thinking of joining the Service realise there is a place for them. He says: "Every single person, no matter what shape or size you are, has a place within a team. We couldn't have a team of 6ft tall by 6ft wide firefighters who just had brute strength because it just doesn't work like that. The way I look at it, you need some people in a team who can break a door down, but you also need others who can slip in through a window."