Station Commander Vicky Best

After playing an integral role answering 999 calls in the fire control room, Vicky wanted to become more involved in operational duties 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. 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."

After spending time at stations as part of a watch, Vicky has successfully worked her way to Station Commander, with her role being the Station Commander at St Neots and Papworth fire stations.

Vicky said: “It is working with others that makes the job worthwhile. 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."

Vicky’s role involves responding to incidents with the potential to take over as the officer in charge. The more significant fires or road traffic collisions can often require coordination of the crews in attendance and liaison with other emergency services. 

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

Vicky said: "I don't see myself any differently from the men and they don't treat me any differently. I had a really good insight into the 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 challenge yourself and learn skills you never thought you would have but will become part of a team of people who are well respected by members of the public for the job we do.  Moving forward there are opportunities to progress within the service once you feel ready for the next role."