Dan: “I think there’s a lot of mystique around firefighters”

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Firefighter and photojournalist Dan Homewood is on a mission to document daily life in the fire and rescue service, and the impact it can have on mental health.

We often hear beneficiaries say it’s difficult to share with their loved ones what life is like as a firefighter and what it is they’ve gone through that led to them eventually seek our support. Dan Homewood is on a mission to change this.

The Oxfordshire firefighter is also a a professional photojournalist and documentary photographer. He wants to start a project that captures daily life to raise awareness of the toll some of the work can take, particularly the issue of traumatic stress within the fire and rescue service.

A breathing apparatus course at the Fire Service College

“I think there’s a lot of mystique around firefighters,” he says. “I know before I joined, I had no idea about all the elements of the role, but I think it’s the best job in the world. I live it, so I know. Now I want to create a photographic body of work that documents life as a firefighter that weaves in all the threads of the communities within the fire and rescue service, and specifically focuses on the impact on mental health.”

Participants in a project run by Oxfordshire FRS to help kids struggling at school with behaviour.

Dan has aspirations of publishing his photographs in a book, with proceeds going to The Fire Fighters Charity. This, he says, is his way of thanking the Charity that stepped in to help him when a change in his personal circumstances saw him facing the possibility of supporting his young daughter alone.

An Afghan man in Belgrade, Serbia, taken in December 2016

“I was really struggling, getting into debt, trying to put food on the table and find childcare,” he says. “I got in touch with The Fire Fighters Charity and received advice and a friendly ear, as well as Sainsbury’s vouchers I could spend on fuel and food each month. It made a massive difference to my life. I’d gotten used to living with anxiety every day, not knowing how we were going to eat, which was having a huge psychological impact on me. The Charity’s support took away so much of that worry.”

Flowers and teddies taken at the Grenfell memorial

Dan now wants to travel the country, speaking to fire personnel across the whole community to celebrate the diversity within its walls. He is no stranger to shooting difficult subject matter, as he and his film camera have visited the city of Belgrade in Serbia, as well as the Grenfell memorial in the aftermath of the fire. He then develops his photographs himself in his dark room at home.

A boy enjoying the splash of a wave

Of his photography, and the approach he takes, Dan says: “By seeking differences in social, economic and political communities and across borders, my photography searches for the quiet and everyday moments that are often overlooked, yet reveal something universal within the human condition.”

We’ll be keeping up with Dan’s progress as he embarks on his documentary project, so watch this space.