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firefighters in front of fire truck

Female firefighters blazing a trail

Posted April 30, 2024

Recently recruited Catherine Williams and Zara Davis are part of the Firefighting team on hand to respond to emergencies at Hinkley Point C. Here they share how they got into the industry, the challenges they face, and what their work on site involves…

Hi both. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Catherine: “I went straight from university to working for a company that manufactured Ribena and Lucozade. I was Logistics Manager and responsible for all warehouse staff and Heavy Goods Vehicle movements at a very busy site. For the last two years I’ve been working in Fire Control, taking 999 calls and radio messages, and assigning crews.”

Zara: “I studied Sports Therapy at university while working in a bank. I joined my local fire station as a Firefighter before successfully securing a role as an Aviation Firefighter at Gloucestershire Airport. I recently got a job at RedOne and was placed at Hinkley Point C as a Firefighter Technician.”


How did you get into firefighting?

Catherine: “I had to consider fire safety as part of my role in Logistics. I was also involved in some large building projects on site where fire safety was a big focus. When I saw my local fire station was looking for retained firefighters, I thought I had transferable skills, and I wanted to support my local community.”
Zara: “My interest in firefighting came from Brad, my old football coach as a child. He was a Firefighter in Avon and I loved hearing about his role – he was very much my inspiration for exploring this line of work. I was lucky to experience taster sessions at my old local fire station and he even helped me prepare for the fireground and fitness tests for my own application. When I was at university it was coincidental that I lived near a retained station, but I loved the idea of joining the service in any capacity that meant I could do the job and help my community.”


What does your current role involve?

Catherine: “As a Firefighter at Hinkley Point C, I provide onsite emergency response. This includes firefighting, rescue from height, confined space recovery and water rescue. I also support with road traffic collisions, chemical spills, medical emergencies, and any other incidents that require emergency response.”
Zara: “It involves prevention by carrying out visits to check rescue plans, hydrants and emergency arrangements. And I also provide on-site emergency response.”


What do you enjoy most about this work?

Catherine: “I love doing all the physical stuff but if I had to choose, I’d say rope rescue is my favourite.”
Zara: “I like the variation of the role and the unknown of what we can be called to. I also enjoy the physicality of the job and all the training and development involved.”


What are the main challenges and how are they overcome? 

Catherine: “Finding my way around the site.”
Zara: “The site is a world of its own. There are so many moving parts that you have to be aware of what’s going on constantly.”


What sort of skills does it take to do this work?

Catherine: “You must be team player and pull your weight – definitely no slackers! And you need to keep yourself physically fit.”
Zara: “I agree – teamwork is a massive part of this job. Perseverance is also important, as there’s so much to learn. You need to be able to drive yourself to learn more and maintain the skills you’ve developed.”


What are your thoughts on Hinkley Point C?

Catherine: “It’s amazing!”
Zara: “I’m still new to the project and have a lot to learn, but it’s exciting. Everything has a place and purpose, which makes for a nice working environment.”


Do you have any community connections?

Catherine: “I deliver road safety workshops to new young drivers, and I’m also Dementia-dog trained and visit a local Dementia club.”
Zara: “I live outside of the area, but I’m involved with my local community in Gloucestershire through my retained station with things like training, open days and safety visits.”


How do you find working in a typically male-dominated industry?

Catherine: “I’ve always chosen typically male roles. I’m not fazed – I can give the guys a good run for their money!”
Zara: “Similarly, I’ve always tended to be within male-dominated environments. I grew up playing sports with boys, my degree was predominantly filled with males, and my initial roles within the fire service saw me being the only female on the watch. I’m good friends with many of the guys I’ve worked with. Though they’ve made me feel like I belong, I like to think I could hold my own against them!”


Why do you think it’s important to celebrate women working in these roles?

Catherine: “Young women need to see women in the fire service to know it’s a role that’s open to them. Otherwise, they may not consider it as an option.”
Zara: “Visibility is so important. During my entry tests I was supported by a female station manager who’d worked her way up to Firefighter. It was motivational seeing a woman holding her own in this industry. My hope is that people will see this and know that being in the minority in an industry doesn't mean you can't do it.”

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