Fire Service control room apprentice achieves distinction grade

 A Control Room apprentice from one of the country’s leading fire and rescue services has achieved a much deserved distinction grade at the end of his 15-month apprenticeship.

Matthew Noble, aged 30, who works as a member of Green Watch in the Fire Control Room at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) has excelled during the Ofsted approved Emergency Call Handler Apprenticeship programme, and he believes what he has learnt on the course will be crucial to the work he does for the Fire Service.

Matthew of Houghton-le-Spring first started with TWFRS back in March 2022, and he described the course as being enjoyable, well-balanced, inclusive and interesting.

The former bartender, sales advisor and Geography university graduate has followed in the footsteps of his dad and brother into the region’s emergency services as his dad was a firefighter in Tyne and Wear for twenty-five years working at a number of community fire stations including Gateshead and Rainton Bridge, and his brother works for Durham Constabulary.

Matthew said: “The course encourages you to continually practice major aspects of the role whilst also asking you to reflect on what you have done, and why you are doing it.”

He said, as the course was tailored towards his fire service role, it allowed him to continuingly progress and develop as part of the on-the-job training. “This has massively helped strengthen my understanding of the various facets we have to consider as a team when dealing with emergency calls, and the overall tasks carried out within our Control room.”

Matthew was asked how beneficial the course was, and what key areas he experienced. He said: “The course was very beneficial, as it focused on the key aspects of Control, such as the handling of emergency calls, operating the radio and carrying out the resulting actions required from an incident.

“These elements are integral to the training as they are used continually on a daily basis. The study of these areas are crucial to becoming a competent Firefighter in Control.”

The avid cricketer concludes by saying. “I wanted to pursue a career where I was helping others and making a real difference to people who need help.”

When Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) inspectors visited the Service last year they were ‘extremely impressed’ by the Fire Control apprentices and the manner in which they handled the calls, their approach to the callers and the way they gathered information that was used to dispatch the appliances to the incidents in hand.
The call handler apprenticeship programme is just one important facet of the Service’s firefighter control development. In Tyne and Wear, the individual will encompass every aspect from the appliance mobilising process through to emergency incident management and radio communications.

Matthew is one of four TWFRS apprentices who studied on the new course, and they are part of a 30-strong team of Emergency Call Handlers who help to keep Tyne and Wear safe from harm.

In 2021, the TWFRS Control Room team answered a massive 110,000 calls from concerned residents across the region, which broke down to 30,000 emergency calls and 80,000 non-emergency calls.

Paul Russell, Area Manager Community Safety, said: “We are so proud of our Fire Control apprentices who have successfully completed the Emergency Call Handler Apprenticeship programme.

“It is a very challenging and hands-on course which is intentionally designed to test and equip the call handlers with skills and learning scenarios that will put them on the right road for working in our Control room.

“The excellent qualities of the course is not only of benefit to the Service with our staff experiencing thorough on-the-job training of the highest calibre, but the candidates themselves will leave the apprenticeship with a recognised qualification that will be invaluable for their own personal career development.”