Chief's Blog

NI Fire & Rescue Service

Graduations & New Starts

Graduations & New Starts

Category: NIFR Events, Recruitment, Uncategorised    Date: 11th May 2018       


“Over the last couple of weeks I had the great honour of attending the graduation of 14 new Firefighter Control Operators and our first course of 27 Wholetime Firefighters.

“It was a pleasure to share the graduations with their friends and families and I was highly impressed with the calibre of Trainees – their pride, passion and dedication as they completed very intensive and demanding training courses was clearly evident.

“Our new Firefighter Control Operators – 8 women and 6 men – are often known as the ‘beating heart’ of the organisation. They will be based in our Regional Control Centre, responding to the 35,000 emergency 999 calls we receive each year.

“Firefighter Control Operators need a diverse skill set including the ability to quickly and effectively evaluate each incident. They have to determine the best plan of action as they dispatch fire appliances and other resources needed to deal with fires and emergency incidents. They also provide potentially life-saving fire safety advice and are skilled in call-handling techniques to challenge those making hoax calls to NIFRS.

“I would like to commend the efforts of top Trainee Firefighter Control Operator – Claire Costello and runner-up Trainee, Chris White. Congratulations on this tremendous achievement – you are both role models for your peers and future Trainees.


Wholetime Recruitment

“One of my key priorities on becoming Chief was to initiate Wholetime recruitment in order to create a more stable organisation. Thanks to the support of NIFRS Board and the Department of Health we were able to deliver on this, receiving almost 5,000 applicants and exceeding our target for female applicants – 12.3% against a target of 10%.

“Our first intake of Wholetime Trainees started their training on 2 January 2018 and a second intake of 31 started on 5 March 2018. We plan to have further intakes of Wholetime Trainees over the next 2 financial years ensuring we have the strength and resilience for the future.

“During their intensive Trainee Firefighter Course the 27 new Wholetime Firefighters developed specialist knowledge and a wide range of practical skills. These included fire prevention, protection, breathing apparatus, road traffic collision and specialist rescue skills as well as community safety education and engagement training.

“Their graduation was a momentous occasion as they showcased these skills by performing a number of live fire and rescue demonstrations and drills. The speed, precision and teamwork demonstrated reinforced the key qualities and attributes required from a modern day Firefighter and I look forward to watching their careers develop in the years ahead.

“I congratulate the prize winners – Firefighter Travers who won the Top Retained to Wholetime Trainee Award, Firefighter Ellis received the Breathing Apparatus Award, Top Trainee runner-up Award was presented to Firefighter McCormick and Firefighter Hume received the Top Trainee Award, the Fire Authority Shield and the George Moore Trophy.

“The role of a modern Firefighter continues to evolve as we work to keep people safe from a wide range of emergencies such as fires, road traffic collisions, specialist rescues, flooding incidents and collapsed buildings. It’s also about community education, engagement and prevention activities to help reduce emergencies occurring in the first place.

“Over the last year we have also welcomed and trained 35 new Retained Firefighters for 14 of our Retained Fire Stations. Retained Firefighters are an essential part of our service delivery – we simply could not operate without our Retained Firefighters who provide the emergency fire and rescue services to local towns and villages across Northern Ireland.

“I firmly believe that our single greatest asset is our people who are committed, loyal and passionate about what they do. Each and every role is vital to the success of our organisation. We continually strive to ensure that we recruit and train only the very best people because working for NIFRS is not just a job, it is a vocation and a way of life.”


*I am delighted that our Human Resources and Learning & Development Team won ‘Team of the Year’ at the annual CIPD NI Awards. The Award was in recognition of the Wholetime Firefighter recruitment exercise, which was a huge undertaking and involved a fantastic team effort by so many employees. Well done to everyone involved. (The CIPD NI Awards took place on 10 May 2018)

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