23 January 2020
29 new Trainee Firefighters graduated from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) today, and will now begin their new careers as Wholetime Firefighters in Fire Stations across Northern Ireland.
Newly appointed Minister of Health, Robin Swann, joined Chief Fire & Rescue Officer (Interim) Michael Graham at a special Graduation Ceremony at NIFRS Learning and Development Centre, Belfast, where the graduates were presented with their certificates and awards.
During their intensive Trainee Firefighter Course, the new Firefighters have developed specialist knowledge and a wide range of practical skills, including tactical firefighting, breathing apparatus, road traffic collision and other rescue skills, as well as fire prevention and community safety training.
They are the first cohort of Trainee Firefighters to benefit from NIFRS’ new state of the art Tactical Firefighting Facility outside Cookstown, which improves how Firefighters are trained, enhancing their own safety and the safety of the public.
NIFRS Chief Fire & Rescue Officer (Interim) Michael Graham, said:
“I would like to warmly congratulate our 29 new Firefighters on their achievement. This is a proud day for them, both personally and professionally. I am also pleased to welcome Minister of Health, Robin Swann, here today to support them on this momentous occasion.
“By completing our rigorous Trainee Firefighting Course, our graduates have proven that they have the knowledge and practical skills necessary to be a modern day Firefighter in an organisation that is changing and transforming, and from today they will take their place on a Fire Station, using those skills to help make people safer.
“When our graduates take up that place, they will be following in the long, proud tradition of all the Firefighters who have come before them. Our equipment, our methods and the incidents we respond to have all changed since the foundation of the first Fire Brigades in Northern Ireland, but their commitment to serve our community is exactly the same commitment that has been present in every single Firefighter in our history.
“Firefighting is both a vocation and a way of life. Today’s graduates have chosen this career because they believe in serving our community and working with others to make Northern Ireland a safer place. These are the fundamental cornerstones upon which our service is built. I wish today’s graduates every success in what is a very challenging, exciting and rewarding career.”
Carmel McKinney, OBE, Chairperson of NIFRS, said:
“On behalf of the NIFRS Board, I would like to congratulate our new Firefighters and wish them a long, happy and rewarding career protecting our community.”
“The graduates were the first group of new Wholetime recruits to have carried out some of their training at our new Tactical Firefighting Facility. Investing in our people is essential to the future success of NIFRS and an important part of that is making sure our Firefighters have the very best places to carry out their training. This significant investment in how we train and develop our Firefighters in ‘real fire’ facilities will enhance Firefighter and public safety, and is another important chapter in the continued development of a modern day fire and rescue service.”
Minister of Health Robin Swann, Department of Health, added:
“This is my first engagement as Health Minister with the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and I feel it is important to take this opportunity to commend the remarkable men and women of our Fire Service. I would like to thank them for the courageous and dedicated work that they do to protect the safety of communities across Northern Ireland.
“I am delighted that the first cohort of firefighters to benefit from the Executive’s flagship investment in the training centre outside Cookstown are graduating today. This project is an indicator of how a joined-up approach from government departments and Arm’s Length Bodies working together can deliver for all of our community.
“I want to wish the 29 Trainee Firefighters graduating today success in their careers within the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. I am delighted to have been invited to be part of this important occasion that has allowed me to celebrate their success with them.”