A much-loved Sheffield volunteer is helping the fire service to give safety advice to deaf and hard of hearing people, by sharing his sign language skills with crews.
Phil Bowers, aged 49, has volunteered for two days a week as a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue fire support volunteer for more than five years, helping to carry out home safety visits and fitting smoke alarms.
But he is also a trained British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, meaning he has been able to share basic signing skills with community safety staff and firefighters, including a watch at Parkway fire station and managers across the service.
Phil said; “Apart from teaching the crews at Parkway fire station I have also been teaching group managers and had invitations to teach at different fire stations in South Yorkshire. Having sign language skills feels like a great blessing to myself and I feel really lucky that it is not just in my head, but it is locked into my heart. I feel so blessed that I can share it with my fire service family.
“It is so nice that South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue want to learn about the deaf and hard of hearing community, which I have always felt sometimes doesn’t get noticed.
“It has been a pleasure for the last five years to be welcomed to the fire service family, to learn so many different skills and how to be professional in many different situations. It’s just been unbelievable and it has been the loveliest roller coaster of my life.
Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “Our brilliant volunteers contribute so much to the work we are doing to make people safer. We have dozens of volunteers, bringing a huge range of different and diverse qualities, skills and experiences. It can sometimes be harder for firefighters and other staff members to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, so Phil sharing some basic sign-language skills in this way will be of huge benefit.”
To find out more about volunteering with the fire service, visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/find-a-job/volunteering/