On Friday, 10 November 2023, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) welcomed seven new Wholetime Firefighters during a 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, Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Councillor Jeff Brooks, and High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire, Mr Simon Muir.
Much like previous Wholetime recruitment, anyone, from any background or walk of life could apply to be a Firefighter Apprentice, as 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 Ashley Ward by High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire, Mr Simon Muir.
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 Bethany Ashcroft by Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer.
Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer said: “It is with immense pride that we welcome the latest group of seven apprentices into their roles as Wholetime Firefighters, ready to serve our communities.
“They are joining an organisation which is firmly committed to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for them to thrive in.”
“This is just the beginning of their journey and in taking up their new roles, they inherit a proud tradition and I know they will do their very best to continue to deliver an excellent public service to the people of Royal Berkshire.”
Councillor Jeff Brooks, Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “I am delighted to welcome the latest Wholetime Firefighters to the Service, as part of the Graduation Ceremony.
“I know it means a great deal to all of them, as they will now be able to proudly refer to themselves as Firefighters with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, a role which is one of the most sought after, respected and dynamic careers.”
“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 £5,500 was raised when the Apprentices cycled 80km each on static bikes at the Lexicon in Bracknell last month. The distance was chosen to mark the 80 anniversary Fire Fighters Charity 80 anniversary this year.
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.
If you are interested in a career in firefighting, we are running sessions in November and December to help you decide if it’s the career for you. Please visit https://www.rbfrs.co.uk/discover-a-career-as-a-firefighter/ for more information.