If you spot Darren Warner in Rochford before lunchtime, it’s probably because he’s delivering your post.

By the afternoon he will have swapped his Royal Mail van for a fire engine, ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice for someone in need.

The on-call firefighter has worked for Royal Mail for 20 years and after moving to Rochford and seeing a recruitment banner outside the fire station, he decided to try something completely different alongside his day job.

Darren said: “After visiting the station I knew I wanted to join but wasn’t quite fit enough.

“I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone, so I joined a gym, went out running and changed my lifestyle.

“It’s continued to be a positive experience because I’ve had to maintain those standards from day one.”

Working early shifts means Darren delivers post until early afternoon.

Once he finishes he becomes available as an on-call firefighter and offers fire cover until 2am.

Finishing his cover at 2am means if he’s called out in the night it’s likely he’ll be back in time for his day job.

In fact, in 14 years he’s only ever been late for work once because he was at an incident.

He adds: “As an on-call firefighter you do need to commit a lot of time to be available, but you have to think about it in a different way.

“You can go out and about as long as you stay within the required five-minute distance.

“If I go to bed at 10pm then four of the hours I’m giving are while I’m sleeping.

“Of course I do get calls in the middle of the night, but it’s not all the time.

“We get two or three calls a week - so it does interrupt you at home but it’s rare to be out for a really long time.”

Having two community-centred jobs means Darren knows the station ground area well, and most incidents he attends are in his own community.

A year after joining, he found himself just five miles from his home station, battling a fire on the world’s longest pleasure pier.

He added: “Southend Pier fire was a standout incident for me and that’s what keeps the job interesting - you never know what you’re being called to.

“One minute you could be at home watching TV or making dinner and the next you’re on a lifeboat up and down Southend seafront trying to put out a fire.”

The postie’s next step is to begin his Level 1 Incident Commander Training, which will eventually see him take control of incidents by delegating jobs, gathering information and liaising with Fire Control.

He said: “I’m excited about the future and know I’ve got the experience to pass on to others.

“If you really want to do something that’s going to make a difference to your life and to your local community, then come down to the station, see what we do and have a chat.” Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is currently recruiting on-call firefighters at Rochford. Anyone aged over 18 and physically fit can work as an on-call fighter but they must live within five minutes of Rochford Fire Station.

Visit join.essex-fire.gov.uk/rochford to find out more.