Wearside firefighter achieves distinction accolade on apprenticeship programme

TWFRS Firefighter Annabel Evans

A Wearside-based firefighter has achieved the highest possible accolade at the end of her Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) apprenticeship.

Firefighter Annabel Evans, aged 27, of Sunderland has gained distinction grades ‘across the board’ after completing the Operational Firefighters Apprenticeship as part of the first-ever group of trainee firefighters to be entered onto the programme within TWFRS.

Annabel is originally from Oxford and moved up to the area back in 2012 when she attended Newcastle University to study a degree in Human Geography.

Annabel said: “It has been brilliant.  I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to work with. They’ve been very helpful and supportive all the way through my firefighter training.

“I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter. In this occupation you really have to count on each other as everyone has each other’s backs!”

Annabel started as a TWFRS new recruit in October 2018 and completed her initial 14-week training course in February 2019.  After passing out from the initial training programme each firefighter is then assigned to their future watch, which is based on one of the Fire Service’s 17 community fire stations.

Annabel joined White Watch at Farringdon Community Fire Station.

During her probationary phase, Annabel was part of the first unit to sign up for the firefighter apprenticeship programme delivered by TWFRS in partnership with New College Durham. This formed part of her overall training programme.

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.

Annabel achieved an overall distinction across all three disciplines.

TWFRS Firefighter Annabel Evans during her training programme.

Another connection between Annabel and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is that she is married to Jason, a serving firefighter stationed at Marley Park Community Fire Station in Sunderland. They recently tied the knot in September of this year. She tells of how excellent it has been having the support of somebody who has already experienced their own training journey.

Annabel talks about the variety of training that she has received during her apprenticeship.  She said: “Year-upon-year you learn more and grow more as a firefighter.  It is a varied experience with not one aspect ever being the same.  It’s not just about fighting fires – you are also an ambassador for the Service and enjoy an element of community engagement.”

Annabel recalls her first live job when she joined Farringdon Community Fire Station. She said: “I have to be honest and say that the live fire situations are my favourite bits.  When I originally joined White Watch my first taste of putting out a fire wasn’t quite what I expected.  As we were called out to a residential property, where a barbeque fire had got out of control. It just showed me how varied the job can be.”

TWFRS Firefighter Annabel Evans standing alongside ACFO Lynsey McVay.

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

“We are proud of everything our apprentices and new recruits work so hard to achieve.  They are a credit to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and the residents of whom they will be protecting and keeping safe during their time-spent serving in the region.”

The final words come from full-time firefighter Annabel Evans. “When you finish the training you feel a massive sense of achievement as the programme can be physically and mentally challenging. But it’s definitely all worth it.

“If anybody is considering becoming a firefighter then my advice would be. Go for it! Make sure that you do your research in the run up to the entrance exam and always work on your fitness levels.

“You make friends for life.”

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.