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On Thursday, the BBC added a another gripping series to their growing list of shows that focus on emergency workers on the frontline. Yorkshire Firefighters is a unique four-episode documentary series brings about the men and women keeping their communities safe in West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has 900 firefighters serving a population of more than two million people.
The first episode took place in the lead-up to Bonfire Night, which is always a hectic time of year for firefighters, and brought about new challenges as the country entered a second lockdown. The saw the crew attended a post box fire and reports of a firework being pushed through the letterbox of a house in Leeds, where a terrified mother and young daughter are inside and a cab that has been set alight.
Kelly Bevan-Jackson, Crew Commander at Killingbeck Fire Station, stars in the show, which offers a rare chance to go behind the scenes to bring viewers closer to the action than ever before on real-life emergencies. As viewers hailed the bravery of all those involved, Kelly is keen for everyone to know that they’re just “ordinary, decent people that are just doing a good job in the community” as well as the range of incidents they attend.
"I'm excited for viewers to see the range of incidents we go to. The most interesting jobs are not necessarily the large scale incidents but usually the ones which require us to engage with the community more. As you turn up to an incident with the small amount of information you get, you've got to try and formulate a plan and deal with the incident and how dynamic it is," Kelly tells Tyla.
"Usually the first initial moments you spend absorbing what's going on and it’s usually over and done with very quickly and then you're onto the next one. There's often not a lengthy hand over, you're usually on the road again and onto the next one."
Before working for the Fire Service, Kelly worked in education, at a centre for pupils no longer in mainstream school. The 39-year-old was born in Doncaster and moved to Leeds for university where she met fellow firefighter and co-star Sarah Dunn, 40, who works the same shift with watch commander Sophie Green, 48 and crew commander Nicola Marr, 39. Having so many women on the same shift in the Brigade is unusual, Kelly explains.
The opportunity to have a career that would make a difference as well as offer something different every day was what attracted Kelly to the Fire Service. “I also wanted something which I felt was a physical and mental challenge to myself and I could really push myself in.” However, television was not on the cards until now. “Growing up I certainly would have hated being in front of the camera,” she quips.
The series was filmed last winter, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which changed the way the firefighters operated around the station itself as well as when they attended incidents. "That process was the same except we had to wear a mask which is quite awkward in our job because a lot of it is based on communication and wearing a mask is a bit of a hindrance but it’s not actually that bad when you analyse it."
Kelly lives in North Yorkshire with her partner Laurie who is a primary school teacher and their three year old twin daughters. So, how does she unwind after a busy day saving lives? “A glass of wine and a bit of telly. Maybe a nice walk sometime.” Kelly and Laurie enjoy spending time with their children going on bike rides around the countryside. “We like to spend a lot of time with our families. Just the normal thing when you get to middle age with your kids.”
One of Kelly’s greatest achievements with starring in Yorkshire Firefighters is setting an example for her young daughters as well as other little girls across the country that they can do anything and achieve in any career they want. “It's nice to show young girls and young women that you can do anything that you want. Every opportunity is out there if that's what you want to do.”
Yorkshire Firefighters continues Thursday at 9pm on BBC Two. Episode one is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.
Featured Image Credit: BBC
Topics: TV And Film
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