Watch Commander Vicky Best

After playing an integral role answering 999 calls in the fire control room, Vicky wanted to become more involved in the frontline and made the dramatic change to become a firefighter.

She explains: "I had reached the role of watch commander and had become frustrated at the lack of opportunity for any further promotion within Control. I was unable to move anywhere else within the Service without having operational experience so when chance arose for an operational course I applied and was successful in getting through. The rest is history."

Vicky has recently been promoted to the role of Watch Commander, she says it is working with others that makes her job worthwhile. She says: "I enjoy working with different people both on fire stations and within the community.

"The main thing I enjoy is making a difference. There are occasions when our attendance at an incident really can be the difference between saving someone's home or losing it and even, on occasion, saving someone's life. It's a great feeling when you know you've made a contribution at an incident like that."

But what is it like being a woman in a job that historically has a stereotype for being a job for the boys?

Vicky comments: "I don't see myself any differently from any of the guys on the watch and they don't treat me differently. I had a really good insight into the wholetime service from my time in Control so knew there were very few women as operational firefighters but that didn't bother me.

"You just need to get stuck in and do the same as any other firefighter on the watch."

"I'm not very tall or big but I can do it. If you're thinking about whether firefighting is right for you, have a go at the tests. The main issue for females as firefighters is upper body strength so height or size doesn't really matter so long as you are strong enough."

Vicky suggests anyone interested in becoming a firefighter should research what the role entails and visit a station to meet people who already do the job.

She concludes: "You will have to work nights, weekends and bank holidays but you make a difference to people when they really need your help. You will learn skills you never thought you would have and are part of a team of people who are well respected by members of the public for the job we do."