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Life Savers; Graduation of New Firefighters

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News | Life Savers; Graduation of New Firefighters| Andover & VillagesThese are the men and women who will be helping save lives across the county for generations to come.

The 27 new Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service full-time firefighters have just graduated after an intensive course instilled in them the diverse skills and qualities they will need.

The service has not had a recruitment drive for eight years and this group were those selected from more than 800 applicants.

Group Manager for Learning and Development Ty Whitlock said: “The role of the firefighter has changed in recent years and those entering the service now have to learn a diverse range of skills.

“The modern firefighter has to be able to put out fires and cut people out of cars but they also have to be able to deliver life-saving medical care and impart vital safety messages.

“The hard work, determination and professionalism of our new recruits is admirable and I am sure they will uphold the finest traditions of the service.”

There were 16 trainees who completed the 16-week course while 11 attended the first three weeks as they made the transition from on call firefighters to full-time.

A graduation ceremony was held for the group on Friday at HFRS' Eastleigh headquarters.

The course covered firefighting in all its forms from high-rise to wildfires, and learning how to use ultra-high pressure lances, foam and advanced hose reel techniques.

In addition to studying fire science in the classroom the trainees got the chance to experience the practical applications first hand at the service’s world class Academy and the unique training facility at Prince Philip Barracks.

They were also taught about road traffic collisions, animal and water rescues, rescue from height and working in confined spaces.

The trainees were given medical training to enable them to administer life-saving Immediate Emergency Care at incidents.

There were also trained in preventative work such as going on Safe and Well visits, falls prevention and Community Safety events.

Each of the new firefighters has now been assigned to a station where their training programme will continue.

Beyond this they will continue to hone their skills with regular drills as well as developing specialist knowledge in a variety of fields.

Chief Officer Dave Curry said: “During the trainees' time with the Academy they have learnt how to work as part of a team, developing their situational awareness and decision-making alongside the varied technical skills and extra qualities required to be part of a leading modern day fire service.

“They became part of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service from their first day of training. Now they join our operational crews protecting our local communities in a wide range of incidents and emergencies.

Firefighter Natalie Bee, 26, who lives on the Isle of Wight and will be based at Southsea Fire Station, was previously a structural engineer.

She said: “When I read about being a firefighter on HFRS social media I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do.

“I have always been physically fit and involved in sports, and, through my previous job I had a good understanding of how buildings are constructed, so I hoped I had skills I could bring to the role.

“I feel lucky to have been trained by HFRS. The course was challenging, as I expected, and I can’t believe how much I have learned.”

Firefighter Tom Hall, 29, who lives in Southsea and will be working out of Fareham Fire Station, was previously a communications co-ordinator for HFRS.

He said: “It is hard to believe the changes that I have seen in myself during this course.

“Just 16 weeks ago I was an untrained person dreaming of being a firefighter whereas I now feel confident going onto a station and building on my skills.

“The training we get by HFRS is second to none and I am looking forward to being part of a team that helps keep the communities of Hampshire safe.”

Firefighters including Max Hewett, Ashley Jukes, Jamie Kelly, Kevin Pullen, Joshua Challis, Richard Stenning and Scott Avery will be going to Southsea Fire Station.

Christopher Clements, George Hart, Harry Cottle, Steven Roberts and Richard Wilson will be based at Cosham Fire Station.

Benjamin Farnaby, Elliott Holt, Nicholas Boulding, Carl Sellick and David De’Ath will be at Rushmoor Fire Station.

Gareth Hitchcoe, Michael Penny and Francis Long will be additions to Hightown while David Hammett will be joining St Mary’s.

Havant will welcome Samuel Ricketts to its ranks, Simon Weston is joining Eastleigh, Thomas Ventress will start at Winchester and Callum Feltham will join Andover.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Chris Carter said: “It is always an honour to welcome new people into our emergency services family.

“It takes a special person to wear that badge that shows they are willing to put themselves in potentially dangerous situations to protect others.

“The modern firefighter also needs a more diverse range of skills and attributes than ever before as they engage with the community, give out safety messages and work on prevention.

“It is little wonder they occupy a special place at the heart of the community.”