Meet our employees

Tony Sivills

Tony Sivills likes to do things in threes. He spent three years as a Site Protection Officer. Three years as a Crew Commander, and three years as Station Commander. As a Fire Engineer for Falck, he has found the perfect way to combine his practical skills with his academic interests – and put himself out of his comfort zone again.

As the son of a miner, avid footballer and all-around nice guy from North East England, Tony Sivills never considered firefighting as a career before he accidentally stumbled across an opportunity to try it out.

“I dreamt of becoming a footballer. As every little English boy do. Firefighter was not something I thought of. If anything, I thought it was a bit dangerous,” laughs Tony.

Since Tony’s father was a miner, naturally, little Tony wanted to go down into the mines like his dad. But Tony’s father said no.

“My father spent 39 years in the mines. He didn’t want me to get stuck down there too. He told me to go carve my own way,” says Tony.

From accounting to the call centre

Being fond of school and numbers, Tony thought the way to go was university. So, he went to Leeds University to study accounting and finance. But it was not for him.

“It was a lot more books than I liked. I didn’t mind the numbers. But accounting wasn’t me. So, I dropped out,” remembers Tony.

Looking for a job, he ended up in a call centre answering telephones. The company also operated a power station and an emergency response team of industrial firefighters. And chance would it that Tony’s neighbour worked on one of the firefighting teams. They were recruiting, and Tony’s neighbour suggested that Tony gave it a shot.

“I thought it was something different. A bit of action. You get out and about. Why not? Let’s try and see where it takes me,” remembers Tony.

Tony joined the emergency response team as a Site Protection Officer, or Industrial Firefighter, on a three-month trial. When the trial was over, Tony got hired and settled into his new life as a firefighter. But then the company wanted to shut down the emergency response teams. It wasn’t part of the company’s core business.

“It was a very diverse sort of organisation. They wanted to close the emergency response or sell it. And that’s when Falck came in and bought us – and that’s how I became a part of Falck,” smiles Tony.

For Tony and his colleagues, the change to Falck was very welcome.

“It was a complete change of culture, mindset and opportunities. At Falck, emergency response and helping people is core business. It’s what we do. In the old company, not so. Emergency response was an add on.”

Out of the comfort zone and into the fire

Tony remembers his training as an Industrial Firefighter as very intense.

“The training constantly put you outside your comfort zone to train you to handle extreme and unexpected situations. And as an Industrial Firefighter, you have the added element of the petrochemical industry. It’s not your everyday house fire,” says Tony.

Training-wise, Tony has come to the end of the ladder as a firefighter. He has completed all the training. He’s been Site Protection Officer, Crew Commander and Station Commander. And with each step, he has stepped out of his comfort zone.

“Initially, I didn’t want to go into the incident commander role. I didn’t want the responsibility. The decisions being on me. It was my crew commander and station commander who pushed me to take that first step,” says Tony. “And with each step, I’ve had to take a step back to look at it from a different point of view to improve my skills, my knowledge and my awareness. It’s a dangerous game and it’s very easy to develop tunnel vision.”

But how about the transition to becoming Fire Engineer?

“It has put me massively out of my comfort zone. All of it. I’m not pushing myself physically with what I’m doing now. But mentally I’m out of comfort zone again. But I believe that’s how you grow as a person,” says Tony.

Back to books

Going back to school to take a Masters in Fire Engineering has enabled Tony to prove to himself that he is capable of studying at a high level.

“I’m getting the gremlin of my back in terms of my academic abilities. That’s nice. But it’s also very different from my first time around. I love what I’m doing now,” says Tony. “Learning new skills from a different perspective. I love the action of emergency response. But personally, what I’m doing now is also very exciting.”

To Tony, the transition to Fire Engineer was a natural next step for him – and Falck.

“I’m now in a position where I can give back while progressing. I’m able to bring together my practical experience and knowledge in a different setting and build on that. This was the natural next step. To make a difference. For myself. And for the company. And with every step out of my comfort zone, I enhance my ability to add value back into that loop I come from. And that’s how you get credibility,” says Tony.

As a Fire Engineer, Tony is primarily concerned with prevention, pre-planning and risk analysis. He identifies scenarios and looks at the signs behind fire. What causes fire, and how you can stop them from occurring at industrial sites.

“You might say I’ve taken a slightly different route. But I still assist with the operational teams and the operational response. Working as a team and having that awareness. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” smiles Tony.

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