A life changing advert

A proud Romanian native who moved to England to study says he is proud to call the country home – and will protect it in his new career as a firefighter.

Mihai Catea recently joined Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and worked his first shift on Christmas Eve.

As a firefighter at Farringdon Community Fire Station, he works hard to keep communities across Sunderland safe.

But that wasn’t what he initially had in mind when he travelled to the UK to begin a Business and Marketing Management degree in 2014.

Upon his graduation, Mihai remained in higher education to work in recruitment and market research but soon realised he wanted a career outside the class room.

In March 2022, the 30-year-old saw a firefighter recruitment advert featuring one of his neighbours and decided it was the job for him.

Back in Romania, Mihai comes from a firefighting family but growing up was never sure that it was the career he wanted.

But he says the Facebook recruitment advert helped him realise he wanted to work in the Service and he has never looked back.

He said “I had lots of jobs, lots of hobbies that I tried to make into jobs, but when I read through the job description to be a firefighter everything just sounded like what I wanted to be doing with my life.

“I was always fit but I hated running – I knew the application process was going to be challenging so when I decided to apply, I changed my training to make sure it covered the requirements of the role.

“I’ve always been good at the social and communication sides of the roles I’ve found myself in and those jobs are the ones that I’ve thrived in.

“The course is challenging but being on station is a completely different learning cycle. I love my watch and I love being on station, everyday I’m shown something new and it’s such a supportive environment”

Today (Wednesday) one of TWFRS’s most senior firefighters is encouraging those from different backgrounds to consider a career with the North Easts largest fire service.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay, said “Mihai comes from a firefighting family but wasn’t sure it was for him so he went out and got experience then realised being a firefighter was his calling.

“It’s nice to see that he has found his home with us and he is enjoying his time on station.

“We want people to bring all their experience from previous jobs to look at situations and incidents differently.

“Different perspectives on how to approach a problem really makes our fire service better at responding because our firefighters are often required to think on their feet and problem solve a bit differently.”

TWFRS recently closed their recruitment campaign which saw over one thousand applicants for whole time firefighters.