To celebrate NAW this year, we caught up with just a few of our apprentices who work in a variety of teams across our Service. At BFRS we are proud to have welcomed over 300 apprentices, from firefighters to roles in payroll, ICT, Marketing and more! Hear what our apprentices think about their roles within the Fire Service and how colleagues feel working with our awesome apprentices.
FF James Ford
What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
“The most enjoyable part of the apprenticeship is being able to utilise the skills and knowledge I have gained throughout the apprenticeship at operational incidents. Putting what I have learnt into practice in real life emergency situations provides a great sense of pride & job satisfaction!”
What has your biggest challenge been?
“The biggest challenge for me has been learning about all the various pieces of equipment that we carry and how to use these effectively at incidents.”
*Throughout the two year Firefighter apprenticeship, our recruits complete 4 milestones to highlight and measure their progress ready for their End Point Assessment.*
Can you explain what a milestone is?
“A Milestone is an internal (BFRS) day of assessment for an apprentice as they progress through their apprenticeship. Milestones test different aspects of the role of a firefighter and enable the Service to recognise development as they move through the apprenticeship programme.
My most recent and final milestone consisted of a knowledge test, two practical assessments testing my ability as a pump operator and a BA (breathing apparatus) team leader. I also had to create and deliver two PowerPoint presentations, finished with a professional discussion.”
WC David James
What is it like working with a group of apprentices on your Watch?
“The apprentices bring a new lease of life to our Watch. They all vary in age, so life skills are mixed when they arrive on station. It means that our current Firefighters have to go back to basics to assess where they are practically in each module of firefighting. Going back to basics is good for everyone as it means core skills are refreshed. It also means if the apprentices learn new techniques whilst on their training, they can show our Watch new efficient methods.”
How do you feel personally, watching your apprentices grow and develop?
“Proud in a nutshell!! They turn up new out of training school very keen and over the course of the apprenticeship you get to see them develop not just in their practical skills but also their confidence. The apprenticeship is a good mixture of theory and practical skills. So they become a well-rounded part of the team over the 2 years. Once they can start going on standby’s (shifts at other stations within the county) they are representing our Watch/station so you want to make sure they can be the best that they can be so that they can make a good impression.”
As a WC how do you and the rest of the Watch support the apprentices?
“We support them from the moment they walk on station and join the watch. Starting with station inductions (first aid box locations, fire exits and fire assembly points, etc.). Then where their locker is for storing personal belongings and where their fire kit can be stored whilst off duty. Each apprentice is given a mentor, a person who can help them develop by passing on their own knowledge, skills, and tips. This gives them a point of contact if they’re not sure of something.We spend time doing things like locker drills with our apprentices, this helps them learn locations of kit stowed on the fire appliance. We also regularly go through procedures and physical skills that they will need to learn on things that were not covered in their basic training.”
Payroll and Benefits Manager – Jackie Vere-White
What is it like working with an apprentice in your team?
“Inspirational, they bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a keenness to learn.”
How do you feel personally, watching your apprentice grow and develop?
“I feel proud to see how well Izzy has developed. To see her confidence and knowledge of the role grow is inspirational. Payroll is a demanding role with many deadlines throughout the month and Izzy’s excellent time management has enabled her to do both.”
How do you as a line manager support your apprentice?
“I’d like to think that I have always made time to go through any concerns, questions or queries that Izzy has. If I have not been able to help then I have tried to find those that can. I have supported the time she has needed to ensure that projects have been completed as it has been important for me to lessen the worry of doing both the apprenticeship and completing the payroll.”
What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship with the Service?
“An apprenticeship can be the stepping stone to a career. Have confidence in the team surrounding and supporting you. If you are unsure about anything then you must always feel that you can ask questions.”