On Friday, 12 May 2023, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) welcomed 23 new Wholetime Firefighters in a Graduation Ceremony at Newbury Fire Station.
The graduates celebrated months of training and hard work with family and friends at the Ceremony and were presented with certificates by Chief Fire Officer, Wayne Bowcock. There were also two special awards presented.
Much like previous wholetime recruitment, anyone, from any background or walk of life could apply to be a Firefighter Apprentice, so long as they were new to the role.
During the training course, the Firefighter Apprentices were thoroughly tested with a range of practical and theoretical training, core skills, breathing apparatus, fire behaviour, water rescue and road traffic collision training.
There were also two special awards presented during the ceremony. The Endeavour Award is presented to the Firefighter that has demonstrated the most effort to improve during the course. This was awarded to Firefighter George Holden by Simon Muir, High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire..
The Silver Axe is an Award given to the Firefighter that has performed to the highest standards throughout the course. This was awarded to Firefighter Mike Selmes by Chief Fire Officer Wayne Bowcock.
Chief Fire Officer, Wayne Bowcock, said: “This is the second time that Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue has recruited Apprentices into this very important role and it gives me immense pride to welcome the latest group of Wholetime Firefighters to serve our communities.
“This is just the beginning of their journey and in taking up their new roles, they inherit a proud tradition and know they will do their very best to continue to deliver an excellent public service to the people of Royal Berkshire.”
Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Councillor Paul Gittings, said: “I am delighted to welcome the latest Wholetime Firefighters to the Service as part of the Graduation Ceremony. They join a supportive team of highly skilled colleagues and together, I have no doubt that they will continue to maintain the excellent standards of service that are provided to residents of Royal Berkshire.”
As part of the apprenticeship, the recruits are asked to organise an event to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity. This year did not disappoint as nearly £15,000 has been raised when the Apprentices cycled the equivalent distance of Windsor to Balmoral on static bikes at locations in Reading and Bracknell.
Following Friday’s Graduation Ceremony, the Apprentices will take up their station placements across the County. Their development will continue with the support of their line manager, with an Apprenticeship Talent Coach, supported by the Service. It is anticipated the Apprenticeships will be completed within 24 months from the start date.