Five local people were among 14 Trainee Firefighter Control Operators who successfully graduated recently following the completion of an intensive 16-week training course.
The achievements of the trainees, including Lisburn men Kyle Dougherty and Collin Cleland, and Claire Costello, Ryan Wallace and Claire Donaldson from Dromore, were celebrated and acknowledged at a special ceremony where awards were presented by Carmel McKinney, OBE, NIFRS Chairperson; Gary Thompson, Chief Fire & Rescue Officer and Michael Graham, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Service Support.
Northern Ireland’s newest Trainee Firefighter Control Operators, six men and eight women, will be based in NIFRS’s Regional Control Centre and are responsible for taking 999 calls and dispatching fire appliances and other resources needed to deal with fires and other emergency incidents. The highly trained call handlers also provide potentially life-saving fire safety advice and are skilled in call handling techniques to challenge those making hoax calls to NIFRS.
Gary Thompson, NIFRS, Chief Fire & Rescue Officer said: “I warmly congratulate our new Trainee Firefighter Control Operators and wish them a long, happy and rewarding career with NIFRS. We continually strive to ensure that we recruit and train the best people for the job. The men and women graduating today were recruited following a rigorous selection process and represent the elite of the 474 applicants.
“In our Regional Control Centre based in NIFRS Headquarters, Lisburn, these trainees play a vital role in supporting NIFRS to protect the community from a range of emergency incidents. With NIFRS receiving on average 35,000 emergency 999 calls a year, the role of Firefighter Control Operator is a vital and challenging one within the organisation. However, call handling is only one important aspect of the role which requires a diverse skill set including the ability to quickly and effectively evaluate each incident and determine the best plan of action, as well as providing fire safety advice to callers and weeding out hoax calls to NIFRS.
“NIFRS invests heavily in the continuous training and development of our firefighters so the completion of their Trainee Firefighter (Control) course does not mark the end of their training but the beginning of a career-long path of training and personal development. These trainees will complete a further three-year development programme. I wish them every success for the future.”
Carmel McKinney OBE, NIFRS Chairperson commented: “I am delighted to commend and recognise the achievements of the 14 new Trainee Firefighter Control Operators. Our single greatest asset is our people and each and every role is vital to the success of our organisation. As the first point of contact for those who have found themselves in a potentially life-threatening situation, the Firefighter Control Operator role is both challenging and hugely important. The trainees here today have worked tirelessly to gain the knowledge and skills required to take their place in the Regional Control Centre and join their colleagues in protecting our community.
“I would like to commend particularly the efforts of top trainee, Trainee Firefighter Claire Costello and runner-up trainee, Trainee Firefighter Chris White. Congratulations on this tremendous achievement – you are both role models for your peers and subsequent trainees.
“On behalf of NIFRS board, I wish all the new trainees every success as they embark on their career within NIFRS.”