Police inspector and paramedic among those hired in firefighter recruitment drive

A former police inspector and specialist paramedic are among the recruits who have signed up for firefighter training over the last year.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 10:00 am

Almost 40 have now joined the fire brigade in Tyne and Wear since February 2019, the first new staff to join the service in almost a decade.

And now fire chiefs have shone a light on the diversity of those signing-up – as well as the problems caused by years of cuts and financial uncertainty.

“On our last training course we had someone who had been an inspector in the police and someone who had been a heart technician with the ambulance service,” said Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) assistant chief fire office (ACFO) John Baines.

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He added: “The levels of cuts [since 2010] mean [recruitment] is like trying to turn an oil tanker.

“The last 10 years have been a challenge and we’re now trying to build a plan with just a one-year financial settlement, which we’re trying to square with the amount of time it takes to get people trained.”

ACFO Baines was speaking at a meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Human Resources Committee.

Following a freeze, recruitment to the brigade restarted in 2018 and initially saw 5,000 aspiring firefighters apply for just 20 jobs.

This eventually saw 23 recruits complete training and deploy to fire stations within Tyne and Wear by February last year (2019), while a further 15 completed their training in December (2019).