Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has welcomed a total of 14 new firefighters after 12 wholetime and two retained recruits successfully completed an intensive 15-week course, with all training delivered ‘in-house’ for the first time.
During the course, the recruits learned all of the skills they need to begin their careers as firefighters, including core skills, technical rescue and breathing apparatus training. Previously, parts of the recruits’ course were outsourced to other fire and rescue services but with this being the first time RBFRS has undertaken wholetime recruitment in five years, the training centre staff are now in a position to deliver the entire course themselves. By undertaking all of their training in-house, all of the recruits can be posted to fire stations immediately, without any delay for conversion courses or specific equipment familiarisation.
Another benefit of RBFRS delivering the complete course is that it enabled two retained recruits to complete their basic training at the same time as their wholetime colleagues. Although almost identical in content, retained and wholetime training is often delivered separately to allow for the availability of the retained recruits, as most have other employment or commitments. By designing the new course on a modular basis, it allows more flexibility for retained recruits to fit in with their personal circumstances.
The course culminated in a celebratory ‘passing out’ parade held at RBFRS’ training centre at Whitley Wood on Friday (15 April). During the event, the new recruits showed off their new skills to their proud families and friends in a variety of drills, including a road traffic collision demonstration and a breathing apparatus scenario in the firehouse. Other special guests in attendance included Sir John Madejski, deputising for the Lord Lieutenant, Victoria Fishburn, High Sheriff of Berkshire, Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, other members of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, and Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry.
Certificates and awards were also presented at the passing out parade, including the Silver Axe, awarded to Matthew Godwin for achieving the highest score in the final assessments, and the Endeavour Award, presented to Martyn Ainsworth, who was chosen for the award by his instructors for showing consistent effort and excellent attitude to learning throughout the course.
Station Manager Chris Holland, course director, said: “All of the RBFRS instructors are immensely proud of the recruits and congratulate them on passing the course. The training was very demanding but they all worked exceptionally hard and their achievements were very well deserved.
“Our new firefighters will shortly be posted to their new fire stations and we wish them every success in their careers. We are now preparing for the next course, which starts in June and are confident that the next intake of recruits that are ready and waiting to start their training will be just as successful.”