More than 70 new firefighters recruited to serve Tyne and Wear, with hopes for more in near future

More than 70 new firefighters have been recruited in Tyne and Wear since last year, with hopes the number will continue to rise in the near future.

By Nic Marko
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 5:26 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th July 2022, 10:03 am
A fire appliance ready for action.
A fire appliance ready for action.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service [TWFRS] chiefs said it was positive news to see the number of new firefighters coming through, after attracting “high quality” candidates from a range of backgrounds.

In October 2020 they launched a campaign resulting in three cohorts of trainees commencing employment with TWFRS, with courses taking place in April 2021, September 2021 and January 2022.

From these three cohorts, 72 trainees successfully passed the course including 10 females, four from BAME backgrounds, two people with a disability and one person identifying as LGBT.

In February 2021, a further campaign to recruit two cohorts of trainee firefighters commenced, with courses scheduled for September 2022 and early 2023.

Conditional offers have been issued to 24 candidates, which include 21 males and three females, who will form the next trainee course later this year.

Pre-registration for the next campaign is also already open and being promoted online and at events.

The update was welcomed by councillors at the latest meeting of Tyne and Wear fire authority’s human resources committee on Wednesday.

Gateshead’s Councillor Gary Haley said: “With previous recruitment campaigns and this one we’ve shot right through 100 new firefighters coming into the organisations over the last few years, so it’s really encouraging.”

A new campaign also launched in May this year seeking candidates from other local authority fire and rescue services who were “competent in role”, as well as from the Defence Fire Service and Civil Aviation.

This has attracted a pool of 69 candidates to date, with those successful progressing to interview with a conversion course scheduled for September 2022 or January 2023.

Peter Heath, deputy chief fire officer, said: “To see 69 people who are currently serving another fire and rescue service expressing an interest in Tyne and Wear, it feels like we might be doing something right.”

He added recruiting even some of this number would bring a “range of experience” and “key skills”.

The meeting heard TWFRS could “count on one hand” those who have left the organisation to join other brigades over the last two years, with officers adding the majority of those who leave are due to retirement.

In the lead up to the launch of the new firefighter recruitment campaign various “positive action initiatives” have also been implemented, created with the intention of assisting with the diversification of the TWFRS workforce.

Key events have included female, BAME and LGBT webinars and half day taster sessions at service headquarters, with “most deemed to be successful”.