The Romanian firefighter who’s helping keep Sunderland safe after deciding on a new career
A Romanian man who moved to England to study has begun a new career as a Sunderland firefighter.
On Christmas Eve, Mihai Catea worked his first shift for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS). Based at Farringdon Community Fire Station, he is keeping communities across Sunderland safe and is proud to live in his adopted country.
However, when he travelled to the UK to study for a business and marketing management degree in 2014 he had other things in mind.
After graduation Mihai, 30, remained in higher education, working in recruitment and market research. But he soon realised he wanted a very different career.
In March 2022 he responded to a firefighter recruitment advert which was to change his life. He comes from a Romanian firefighting family, but had never been sure that it was the career for him.
The advert helped him realise he wanted to work in the service and he has never looked back.
Mihai said “I had lots of jobs, lots of hobbies that I tried to make into jobs, but when I read through the job description to be a firefighter everything just sounded like what I wanted to be doing with my life.
“I was always fit but I hated running. I knew the application process was going to be challenging, so when I decided to apply I changed my training to make sure it covered the requirements of the role.
“I’ve always been good at the social and communication sides of the roles I’ve found myself in and those jobs are the ones that I’ve thrived in.
“The course is challenging, but being on station is a completely different learning cycle. I love my watch and I love being on station, everyday I’m shown something new and it’s such a supportive environment.”
One of TWFRS’s most senior firefighters is encouraging people from different backgrounds to consider a career with the service.
Assistant chief fire officer Lynsey McVay, said: “Mihai comes from a firefighting family but wasn’t sure it was for him; so he went out and got experience then realised being a firefighter was his calling.
“It’s nice to see that he has found his home with us and he is enjoying his time on station.”