9 June 2021
38 new Wholetime (Full-Time) Firefighters graduated from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) today, and will now begin their careers in Fire Stations across Northern Ireland.
The 38 Firefighters were the second group to have completed their training during a global pandemic, and they graduated today at three ceremonies at NIFRS Learning and Development Centre, Boucher.
Due to Covid-19 measures, the Firefighters were trained in three groups – two Wholetime cohorts of 12 and a group of 14 previously On-Call Firefighters who trained to become Wholetime Firefighters. The 24 new Firefighters completed 16 weeks of training, and the On-Call to Wholetime group completed 6 weeks.
The rigorous training programme allowed the Firefighters to develop 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.
Usually new Wholetime Firefighters graduate at one large ceremony, but today three smaller ceremonies were held, and no family members or loved ones were able to attend, to ensure social distancing measures could be adhered to.
Minister of Health Robin Swann said:
“This is an important milestone for all the new graduates as they commence their career with Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. I would like to commend them all for completing their training despite the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic.
“Being a Firefighter is a true vocation which takes bravery, commitment and dedication. I would like to thank all our new Firefighters and wish them every success in their career.”
NIFRS Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Michael Graham said:
“Today is a hugely significant day for our 38 new Firefighters, both personally and professionally. Completing Firefighter training is a considerable achievement at any time, but especially during a global pandemic, and so each of today’s graduates have performed remarkably well to get to this point.
“I would like to thank all of the trainers and support staff for getting our new Firefighters to this point in such challenging circumstances. Their flexibility, hard work and enthusiasm has meant that although the graduate’s training was delivered in a different way due to Covid-19 restrictions, our new Firefighters have been trained to the high standards expected by the organisation.
“Firefighting is both a vocation and a way of life. Today’s graduates have chosen this career because they believe in serving their community and working with others to make Northern Ireland a safer place, which is the cornerstone upon which our incredible service is built. I wish today’s graduates every success in what is a very challenging, exciting but ultimately rewarding career.”
Carmel McKinney, OBE, Chairperson of NIFRS added:
“On behalf of the NIFRS Board I would like to congratulate each of our new Firefighters graduating today, and I wish them a long, happy and rewarding career. It is vitally important that we have the best people to help protect our community, and I’m confident that today’s graduates represent this.
“The training and development of our people is not something that ends with today’s graduation ceremony. Our graduates will continue their training and development on Station and in our new Learning & Development Centre, which has just been granted planning approval, throughout their careers. With hard work and dedication there are fantastic opportunities for career progression within NIFRS and I look forward to seeing the success of today’s 38 graduates over the coming years.”