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Liam's burning ambition

Liam Customer Story

Touchstone’s Liam Paterson is lucky enough to be fulfilling a lifelong ambition, while also making a difference in his day job! We trace his journey to becoming a retained firefighter…

Many of us have a childhood dream. For Touchstone Lettings Administrator Liam Paterson – fuelled by the excitement of blue lights and sirens, and inspired by national treasure Fireman Sam and later, ITV’s long-running hit drama London’s Burning – it was to be a firefighter. 

As soon as he was able, Liam applied to join the fire service and began training for a full-time role in his home town of Bridgwater. But fate intervened with Liam then meeting his future partner, who lived in Bath, and since the pair decided to settle near there in Midsomer Norton the Bridgewater position was not to be…

“I applied again after I moved,” explains Liam, “but things just didn’t work out. These roles are very few and far between and as you can imagine, hundreds of people want that job! It’s also a difficult process to get through, with no guarantees you’re going to last each stage of the course.” 

But on Christmas Day in 2022, Liam received the ultimate glad tidings from his step brother-in-law – a watch manager at their local fire station – when he called out of the blue to say they were looking for a retained firefighter. Also known as an RDS or on-call firefighter, a retained firefighter usually has a job outside of the fire service but responds to emergency calls locally when needed.

Thrilled with the idea
Liam continues: “Obviously it was an exciting time, but I had to keep the news to myself until I got back to work and could meet with my managers. So I had the meeting and said this position had become available, explaining that it was on a retained basis, and I’d need to be on call at certain times – and they were thrilled with the idea!

“They said that to be able to do that job, follow your dreams and help our Community was fantastic and lines up exactly with our People Promises – and they’ve supported me ever since, giving me time off for recruitment and training. My team were all fantastic as well. There’s only six of us but they all pulled together to cover my work while I was off.”

Liam completed his training in September 2023 and is now a fully qualified firefighter, responding to as many as 5 or 6 call-outs a week. Fortunately, the majority of these are smaller incidents, which also means that the knock-on effect for his workload – and his team – isn’t huge.

Making a difference 
“You do see traumatising things,” explains Liam, “but thankfully, it's not all fires and car crashes. A lot of times, it might be something like visiting an elderly couple because one of them is struggling or has fallen over, and all that’s needed is to lift them back into bed. 

“So it's not all destruction, but for the 10 or 15 minutes you're with someone, you’re still making a difference. You might be the only person they see that day, and we’ll always do the best we can, whether it’s making them a cup of tea or a sandwich or putting their dinner on for them.”

What’s really nice to see is the crossover between Liam’s new role and his job at Touchstone, which has brought Liam into contact with a lot of elderly Customers and enabled him to gain a better understanding of their needs. 

Important to our Community
“I’ve learned they just want someone kind to speak to,” says Liam, “not only about lettings but because sometimes they just feel like a chat. And the fact I’ve been able to take that and the other things I've learned in Touchstone back into the fire brigade is brilliant!

“I’m just grateful to Places for People for having the understanding and compassion to help me follow my dream, as I might never have done it otherwise.”

With a role as important to our Community as this one, we were only too happy to help! We’re immensely proud of Liam and looking forward to continuing to support him and our Community.

Read more heart-warming stories from our Customers and People

We hope you found this story inspirational. If you would like to read more stories from around the Places for People organisation, check out more of our In My Own Words stories.  

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