How long have you worked with Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service?
What skills/qualifications are needed to do your job?
Good communication and listening skills are essential in this job, as is working as a team member, using initiative and assertiveness in dealing with day-to-day issues.
Due to the heavy workload of the Operations Policy Unit you need to be able to work under pressure to meet the various deadlines.
When I joined the Fire & Rescue Service 28 years ago the qualifications required for the post were RSA Stage II Typing, English and Mathematics. My role over the years has changed dramatically and to meet these changes I have attended courses at the Fire & Rescue Service Training Centre, where I successfully passed the ECDL exam.
I have also attended South Eastern Regional College, Lisburn Campus, where I sat other relevant exams. I have recently completed the Executive Secretary’s Diploma. This diploma involved– Audio Typing, Understanding Meetings, English for Business, Management and 2 ICT modules. Completing the course has been very beneficial enabling me to apply some of what I have learnt to my present position, thus improving the efficiency of the Unit.
What do you enjoy most about working for Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service?
I enjoy working as a member of a team and also being able to work on my own initiative, the friendship, support and encouragement from friends and colleagues and the craic. The work is also very interesting and varied.
Over the years I have built good working relationships with a number of people; it is nice to keep in touch with people and know what is going on in their lives.
By typing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) I have gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of the operational aspects of the organisation; this makes me appreciate the risks and dangers that Firefighters face at the various incidents they attend. Also, having dealt with SOPs, they have informed me of more local/regional/national issues which affect Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service directly and the community of Northern Ireland.
Outline what a typical working day is like for you?
I normally start work at 8.00 am; this is a quiet period and enables me to deal with e-mails and any mail before the phone starts ringing around 9.
There is no “typical” working day. I provide administrative support for 6 Officers and the work is regularly prioritised and can change from day-to-day – at present there are approximately 100 tasks on the Unit’s planner.
Some of my duties include typing of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Operations Policies, Memoranda of Understanding, agendas, letters, memos; attending meetings; organising flights and accommodation and all emergency planning issues throughout Northern Ireland.
Throughout the day I interact a lot with Officers (both at Headquarters and Areas), external agencies and owners of various premises.
How do you unwind off duty?
I enjoy gardening, yoga and swimming (body permitting) and spending time with my family and friends. At present I don’t have a lot of spare time for hobbies as it is mostly taken up with studying and fitting in time to spend with family and friends.