Our brilliant colleague James Luff combines a job in the home shopping team at our Biggleswade store with a role as a part-time firefighter – and he'll be standing by to deal with any emergencies this New Year.

James carries a pager at all times, and if it goes off while he's at work he runs from the store to the nearby fire station.

James, who's 23, has worked at our Biggleswade store for four years, and joined Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service last November.

He said: "I like helping people. I saw the fire service were recruiting and decided to give it a go. I'm a year into a three-year development programme.

"At that time, I didn't know I would be on call for them while working at Asda, but Asda have been very flexible and helpful – particularly the store manager Dave McGee.

"I carry a pager with me, and if it goes off I literally run out of the store to the fire station, get my kit on, get in the fire engine and go out on a job. Then after the job I get back and return to Asda.

"It's often quicker for me to run to the station than drive, and I'm there in a few minutes.

"I can be loading a van with shopping and the pager will go off. It took a little while for everyone at Asda to get used to it – I think some who didn't know about my work with the fire service wondered what I was doing running off! Now everyone knows about it and is really good about it.

"I've been to everything from road traffic collisions to house fires, smoke alarms and even cats stuck on roofs.

"New Year can be a busy time with firework displays, and if the weather's cold and icy we get called out to quite a lot of road traffic collisions. It's so varied – you never know what your next job will involve or when it will be."

Biggleswade fire station crew commander Marcus Vandenoetelaar said: "Asda's support of James is amazing. In this day and age it's really hard to find companies who are flexible to allow their employees to be on call and ready to leave at a moment's notice, so we're really grateful.

"What Asda have done supports the local community too as it allows us to offer more fire cover in the Biggleswade area, especially during busy times.

"During the Christmas and New Year period we are kept very busy with fireworks displays, and we also get called out to a lot of house fires – people who only use their cooker once a year and end up in difficulty."

The store's ecommerce manager Josh Jacobs said: "It's great to have someone like James here who's so keen to help people in his Asda role and in his own time too.

"He's a really hard worker in everything he does, and when his pager goes off there's no messing about, he's straight out and over to the station."