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Latest recruits pass out in style as they complete their firefighter training course

The second firefighters recruit course to take place during the coronavirus pandemic at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has officially passed out.

Despite the on-going pandemic, the Service was committed to running the course and celebrating the passing out parade, ensuring the necessary restrictions were put in place which enabled everyone involved to maintain a safe distance.

Today, Friday 11 December 18 recruits showcased their new skills as part of their passing out parade and are now preparing to deploy within the Service.

The parade is a long standing fire service tradition that sees the recruits demonstrate how they have been trained to deal with a variety of emergencies and usually takes place in front of their families, senior officers and dignitaries. However, due to social distancing and health and safety restrictions because of Covid-19 yesterday’s event was different.

Family and friends of the recruits were unable to attend in person, as with previous years but were able to join in virtually – watching a mixture of pre-recorded and live footage of the event.

The parade includes a number of fire ground scenarios such as a house fire, an aircraft crash and a road traffic collision, as well as a spectacular hose display and is followed by a presentation of certificates and course awards.

The 18 firefighters underwent an intensive 14 week course at TWFRS’ Training Centre in Barmston, Washington.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther said: “It’s fantastic to be able to share some positive news during what has been an unprecedented challenging year in all of our lives. Our recruits will be deployed at a time when our skills and ability to protect our communities are facing unique challenges.

“Our firefighters don’t just fight fires and rescue people from road traffic collisions, they play a pivotal role in our community to help prevent emergencies and accidents. They also help to educate children on the risks from fire, water and roads.

“Over the past 14 weeks these recruits have been put through their paces to be trained at the highest level and their determination and hard work has certainly paid off.

“They’ve been supported every step of the way by their families and I’d like to say a huge thank you to them, your support has been crucial to their success.

“I’d also like to thank our Training Centre Instructors for ensuring that this course was able to be delivered safely for all concerned.”

The parade took place at TWFRS headquarters in Washington and following the demonstrations the recruits were presented with awards.

  • Daniel Symington received the prestigious Silver Axe award, which has been presented to each course’s top trainee since 1948.
  • The George Maddox trophy for best performance in breathing apparatus training was awarded to Daniel Symington.
  • Gareth Shepherd received the Dan McCormack trophy for achieving the highest theoretical marks.
  • The John Hall Memorial trophy was introduced in 2019 to honour a former TWFRS Training Centre Manager. It was awarded to Gareth Shepherd who demonstrated the highest levels of physical fitness throughout the course.
  • Sam Laidler was awarded the Dusty Ashman trophy. The winner of this award is voted by the course participants as the “Recruits’ Recruit” for truly embracing the team spirit of being a firefighter.
FF Symington
FF Laidler
FF Shepherd

Cllr Tony Taylor, Chair of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Friday was a fantastic celebration of 18 people who have risen to the challenge of becoming firefighters. I wish them the very best as they continue to learn and develop their firefighting skills within Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and huge congratulations to each and every one of them.

“And also congratulations to the Service and in particular the Training Centre Instructors for working tirelessly to ensure this course could go ahead in exceptionally challenging circumstances.”

The final day of the course was Friday 11 December and following this, the 18 recruits will join their new watches and stations across the Service to start the next stage of their training and development.

The recruits will be stationed at the following community fire stations: Washington, West Denton, Marley Park, Gosforth, Wallsend, Hebburn, South Shields, Newcastle Central, Sunderland Central and Swalwell.

Here are some highlights of the training course: