Market Deeping has its first woman firefighter, Leah Chapman, who has joined the ranks of the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue heroes who once saved her life.
Leah (19) has wanted to be a firefighter ever since she was rescued from a burning, crashed car when she was just 13-years-old.
She said: “I kind of owe my life to them.”
Leah said one of her friends had just passed their driving test and they went out together in Stamford when it was quite icy and the car ran off the road on some black ice on a corner and hit a tree.
Her friend exited the car unhurt, but Leah was trapped.
Leah said: “The car caught fire and I was stuck in the car.
I think it’s even better than I imagined. My colleagues help me so much and help me to gain as much experience as I can. They have been really accepting.”Firefighter Leah Chapman
“My seat belt was a bit jammed so I spent longer in the car than my friend did.
“As soon as they (the firefighters) got there, they managed to get me out really quickly and made sure I was safe.
“They arrived really quickly – it must have been within five minutes.”
Leah qualified as a retained firefighter about three weeks ago and has already attended eight incidents.
She said her initial training course lasted about three months and covered such things as house fires, where firefighters learn how to safely search a property and bring casualties out, road traffic accidents and water rescue work.
Retained firefighters attend fire stations for a few hours a week for training, but otherwise they do their “day jobs” until they get an emergency call-out.
Leah’s current day job is in the bar at The Deeping Stage pub, in Market Place, Market Deeping.
Retained firefighters attend precisely the same, full range of incidents as their wholetime colleagues, but Leah hopes one day to switch careers and become a wholetime firefighter.
She said: “I have always wanted to do something to help in the public services. I just want to be part of the community and help the community.”
Leah says becoming a firefighter is the best thing she’s ever done.
“I think it’s even better than I imagined,” said Leah. “My colleagues help me so much and help me to gain as much experience as I can. They have been really accepting.”
Leah lives in Northborough with her mum, Agi, and dad Steve. She has two older sisters.
She said: “My family are extremely happy and proud I have become a firefighter because I really wanted to do it and I have achieved what I wanted to do.”