Firefighter following in father’s footsteps achieves apprenticeship distinction

Firefighter Scott Canham of Tynemouth Community Fire Station.

A Geordie life-saver born and bred in the West End of Newcastle has proudly achieved a distinction grade in his journey to become a firefighter.

Scott Canham, aged 27, originally from Chapel Park in Newcastle is one of three firefighters who recently accomplished the distinction grading as part of the second cohort to complete Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) Operational Firefighters Apprenticeship programme.

The other two TWFRS firefighters were Firefighter Craig Payne and Firefighter Robert Nichols-Key.

The Operational Firefighters Apprenticeship scheme has proudly recorded a 100% first-time pass rate and a 63% distinction rate.

The programme is being delivered in partnership between TWFRS and New College Durham.

The apprentices are assessed under three specialist areas: Knowledge test, Practical assessment with questioning, and a Professional Discussion.  The end point assessment was independently assessed by Skills For Justice.

Scott, who currently lives in the village of Dinnington is no stranger to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, as he is following in the proud footsteps of his dad, Gary ‘Spam’ Canham – who was a firefighter for nearly three decades serving the majority of his career at Byker Community Fire Station.

“Being a firefighter is one of the most rewarding jobs you could ever imagine,” said Scott.

Scott joined TWFRS as a new recruit in September 2019, and started ‘on station’ with Blue Watch at Tynemouth Community Fire Station in early 2020.

Before becoming a firefighter Scott pursued a variety of jobs including a spell as a professional footballer.  He was signed as a school boy by Sheffield Wednesday, and his exciting footballing journey also took him to Spain – where he played for the current La Liga team, Cádiz.

At the age of 20, Scott decided that his long-term career would be away from the football pitch. He then tried his hand at being a Sales Rep and a Personal Trainer before turning his attention towards the Fire Service.

Firefighter Scott Canham during his recruitment training programme.

Scott talks about how he feels about becoming a serving firefighter.  He said: “Every day is different. Every day poses a fresh challenge as no two incidents are ever the same, which is exciting and definitely keeps you on your toes.

“I always wanted to become a firefighter especially as I got older. I’ve done a few jobs prior to this, and the more I looked into it the more I realised that this is well suited to my character and personality.”

Scott explains how he approached and tackled the apprenticeship programme.

He said: “Parts of the apprenticeship scheme were challenging, as many of the new recruits will tell you. It’s very busy when you first come on station. There’s a lot to catch up on, and you need to get in sync with the other watch members as soon as possible.

“The apprenticeship scheme can be demanding but it puts in to practice all of the skills and knowledge that you’ve acquired in the classroom and on the training ground. My colleagues and peers across the Service have been very supportive all of the way through the programme.  At the end of the course there’s a massive sense of achievement.”

Scott concludes by giving some advice for anyone considering joining the Fire Service.  He said: “If you really want to become a firefighter I would say go for it – follow your dream and apply. I can’t pretend that it’s not hard work to get in as you need to be both mentally and physically focused.

“The training and apprenticeship course itself is very tough but you get to learn a great deal and the final rewards are well worth it. Some jobs you come in and experience the same repetition day-in-day-out but at the Fire Service you never know what you might be faced with next, which is why I love it so much!”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Lynsey McVay, said:

“We are delighted with the results of the latest Operational Firefighters Apprenticeship programme. These achievements show the excellent progression being made across the Service.

“It can only install continued confidence within the communities throughout Tyne and Wear that they are safe in the knowledge our firefighters have been trained to a very high standard.”

If you would like to learn about how to become a firefighter with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service please visit the ‘Work For Us’ section of our website.