Name: Katie Cornhill
Job: Station Manager Service Resilience
Workplace: Everywhere in Hampshire… and often beyond
So how long have you been with the Service? 22 years. One as retained firefighter and the remaining 21 as a wholetime firefighter.
As a firefighter, what sort of training have you got involved in? To list all of the training that I have got involved in would be a truly mammoth task. Most of the training I have received has been the means by which I have maintained my competence to serve the public to the best of my abilities. What I can say is that I have received training relevant to the roles I have held throughout my fire and rescue service career including that associated with Prevention, Protection and Response, not to mention the important management and leadership and health and safety training and the essential inclusion and diversity training.
Some of the training I have got involved in has also been from national roles that I hold on behalf of and supported by HFRS. I have also many times designed and delivered training both inside HFRS and outside to a number of external stakeholders.
Knowledge acquisition is very important in terms of being as effective and efficient as I can be and I always enjoy receiving and delivering training in equal amounts.
So what part of your job gets you up in the morning? For me the answer to this question has been very simple throughout my career. I am proud and feel extremely honoured, and privileged to know that I am making people’s lives safer, happier and better every time I go to work. This has never been more true for me personally with the variety of work that I am asked to be involved in
Tell us about what you might get up to on a typical day? I enjoy starting the day off with a bowl of porridge with a banana or blueberry’s (sometimes both – that’s pushing the boat out) and some honey drizzled over the top. What happens next in my day depends on what my work diary tells me.
My main current role is the lead for service resilience/business continuity which is a vital ingredient that keeps your county fire and rescue service being able to deliver the high standards of service it does. I am new to this role so I am currently still finding my feet and having an incredibly enriching experience in doing so. A day doing business continuity can involve a few meetings to support business continuity development, facilitating a debrief of any incidents that we may have had that has affected our business continuity or planning ways to improve what we do and how we learn to make your fire and rescue service stronger for all of us.
I am a strong believer and ally for inclusion and know that improving our equality and diversity both in the workplace and communities will create a more future proofed society. So I am often attending meetings to support the local and national agenda for inclusion, and as a gay woman with a trans history this has often focused on furthering equality for sexual and gender identities & expression. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service know that we will be at our best when everyone can participate at work and in their communities as their true selves openly.
How does that work with family life? My journey in life has been very challenging at times and I am fortunate to have some amazing family members who have supported me unconditionally. They are proud and supportive of the career I have chosen and often provide me with the motivation I need to keep on putting myself out there, which comes with many arduous but rewarding challenges.
Obviously, you will have been to many incidents, can you tell us about your most memorable one? My most memorable incident was shortly after I completed my recruit training and was stationed with green watch at Copnor fire station in Portsmouth. A large goods vehicle had taken a corner to sharply at some traffic lights and a young girl riding her bike had been trapped under the rear wheels. Although a challenging and emotional incident to deal with so soon after completing my initial recruit training, it was an immensely rewarding outcome for the young girl and her family. This confirmed to me how fortunate I was to have gained employment in your fire and rescue service. A few weeks after the incident the family came into the station to personally thank us for saving her life and to let us know that she was well on the road to recovery. A moment I will never forget.
Keeping yourself fit and healthy must be important, what do you do to keep yourself in shape? Keeping fit and healthy is not just important simply because of the role of a modern day firefighter, but as a role models it delivers a positive example to the community that staying in shape is an important lifelong need to protect our wellbeing. I swim at least once a fortnight. I cycle and walk as much as possible – I have a soft spot for the South Downs J. I run 7 to 10 miles three to four times a week. I take part in running events and always use them to raise money for charities, particularly The Fire Fighters’ Charity I play for a local field hockey club and was the top goal scorer last season (2016/17).
How do you switch off? That depends what you mean. As a firefighter I know that wherever I go I personally have a responsibility to be a good role model and positively representative of so many different aspects of being a human being. Whether its staying in shape, having a healthy diet, looking after your own or others wellbeing or being inclusive and striving to develop the best values you can, I believe that every interaction leaves a trace of being a firefighter in a UK Fire and Rescue Service.
However, I do like to enjoy short breaks abroad and have recently travelled to both Holland and France for long weekends. I love to watch a good romantic comedy film because laughing just feels great. I like a good book, my favourite author being Dan Brown at the moment. And I love to spend some good social time with the amazing friends I have in my life. Lazy picnics during the summer are simply divine!
And finally, what would you say that you are most proud of at work? As I mentioned earlier the journey my life has taken since I was conceived has been full of challenges, even up to this point. Life in HFRS is not perfect from the point of view of my identity and the challenges of acceptance that brings to others. But I have to be honest and say that I am most proud of the people I get to work with on a daily basis that have come on my journey with me, and who treat me as a valued human being, who treat me as me and who treat me simply as one of the team. I am proud to have overcome things that I thought I couldn’t, and I am glad to have a source of energy within me that just never seems to waiver. Perhaps that’s a reflection of the great people I work with.