THEY have trained hard for 16 weeks – and now they are joining their stations as fully-qualified firefighters.
For the 27 trainees at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, their dream became a reality when they graduated from an intensive course.
The new recruits were put through their paces during the course, learning about high-rise blazes, wildfires and how to use ultra-high pressure lances, foam and advanced hose reel techniques.
Tom Hall, 29, a new recruit at Fareham fire station, said: ‘It is hard to believe the changes I have seen in myself during this course.
‘Just 16 weeks ago, I was an untrained person dreaming of being a firefighter whereas I now feel confident going onto a station and building on my skills.
‘The training we get is second to none and I am looking forward to being part of a team that helps keep the communities of Hampshire safe.’
The firefighter, who lives in Southsea, was previously a communications co-ordinator for the fire service.
A group of 16 trainees completed the 16-week course, and 11 attended the first three weeks as they made the transition from on-call firefighters to full-time.
They were the first group to be recruited in eight years.
Natalie Bee, who lives on the Isle of Wight and who will be based at Southsea fire station, said: ‘When I read about being a firefighter on social media I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do.
‘I have always been physically fit and involved in sports, and through my previous job I had a good understanding of how buildings are constructed, so I hoped I had skills I could bring to the role.’
Top trainee Kevin Pullen – who will be based at Southsea – was handed the Silver Axe award by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority chairman Chris Carter, who is a Gosport county councillor.
Cllr Carter presented the award at the ceremony at headquarters in Eastleigh.
He said: ‘It is always an honour to welcome new people into our emergency services family.’
Max Hewett, Ashley Jukes, Jamie Kelly, Joshua Challis, Richard Stenning and Scott Avery will join Southsea station. Christopher Clements, George Hart, Harry Cottle, Steven Roberts and Richard Wilson will be based at Cosham.