Firefighter ditches his delivery day job to fulfil his dream

A black firefighter who ditched his delivery day job to fulfil his dream of saving lives in Tyne and Wear has called on minority communities to follow in his footsteps.

Phillip Dove used to spend his days dropping parcels and food off to the people of Northfield in Birmingham, but he always knew he wanted a career where he could help people.

So when the opportunity to apply for one of the North East’s biggest Fire and Rescue Services came up, the 29-year-old jumped at the chance to apply.

Phil left his beloved Birmingham for the bright lights of the north in September 2021 and joined Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) as a trainee.

He is now living in Walker, Newcastle and has settled into his role as part of White Watch at Tynemouth Fire Station.

Phil, who is of Caribbean heritage, is the only black firefighter on his watch but says his crew have taken him under their wing.

He said “There are a few on my watch that are fairly new to the Service so they know what I’m going through and they are so knowledgeable and keep testing me.

“They’ve taken me under their wing and been really accepting of who I am which is fantastic as I’m the only black firefighter on my watch.

“My dad is white and my mum is Caribbean and Birmingham is really multicultural so coming to Newcastle was a new experience as it’s very different.

“But I’m absolutely loving my time here. The job is everything I expected because our training course prepared me for what station life was like.

“The training was like nothing I’d ever done before, so at times it can be a bit overwhelming, but you need to be confident in yourself to keep going.”

Phil hasn’t been on station long but is excited about the many different parts of his role as a firefighter.

He said “I’ve been to a few big jobs so far and your training really does kick in when you turn up and start automatically preparing to respond by putting on your kit or getting tools from the appliance.

“I’m excited to get the opportunity to spend more time in the community in schools educating the younger generation, I used to speak to big crowds at church so it’s not too different.”

Phil joins TWFRS at a time when they are working hard to diversify their work force to be more reflective of the community they serve.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay has been encouraging people from all backgrounds to join TWFRS in the biggest recruitment drive in years.

She said “Regardless of your age, gender, race, religion or sexuality, there is a home for you here in Tyne and Wear.

“Phil moved over 200 miles to find a new home with us and it’s clear his watch have welcome him with open arms which makes me extremely proud.

“The Service is changing and evolving and it is an exciting time to be a part of that.

“If you are looking for variety and a fast paced changing environment with the opportunity to help so many members of our community then TWFRS is the right place for you.”