Trainees socially distanced in Cambuslang
A group of “outstanding” trainee firefighters have made history by being the first to graduate at a dedicated facility in the country’s capital.
The 24-strong group were put through their paces at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s state-of-the-art facility in Newbridge, Edinburgh over the course of 11-weeks.
And they will now join stations across the East Service Delivery Area and work to protect communities and assist partners as the country joins forces to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March, another 36 trainee firefighters also graduated from the SFRS National Training Centre in Cambuslang and have already been deployed to stations across the west of the country.
Another 24 recruits are set to graduate from the training centre in May and will also work to keep people safe.
That brings the total number of new firefighters since March to 84.
Trainee Firefighter Kayleigh Marsh was one of the 24-strong group who completed the recent course at Newbridge Training Centre.
The 34-year-old former fitness manager said: “I wanted to have a career that was rewarding and I was over the moon when I got the message saying I was successful.
“The course was very demanding – it has to be to ensure we are trained to respond safely to assist the public. You also get to learn a lot about yourself - and I’ve made some lifelong friends.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing was applied as much as possible – the instructors were fantastic and always there for support.
“It was a privilege being one of the first to graduate from the new facility and I really enjoyed the experience.”
Kayleigh, now based at Glenrothes Fire Station, added: “The crew have been very welcoming and through continuous training and learning, my Watch Commander and Crew Commanders will assist me with my development to becoming a competent firefighter.
“I had my first turnout on my second nightshift at Glenrothes - the skills I had learned in training quickly became a reality, and it was then clear that this was the career for me.”
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Paul King oversees the SFRS’ training department within the Training, Safety and Assurance Directorate.
He paid tribute to the recruits who will continue to hone their response and technical rescue skills under a structured three-year training programme.
DACO King also thanked partners within the hotel and restaurant industries for their vital support.
He said: “The dedication of our trainee firefighters over the period has been exemplary.
“As well as dealing with the challenges of training under restrictions, many have had personal impacts they have had to overcome - their level of commitment has been outstanding.
“Of course, it would not be possible for us to deliver these courses without the instructors and the help of our business partners such as select hotels and restaurants who have stayed open to ensure we can get more firefighters at stations to protect Scotland’s communities.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in enabling the SFRS to continue to keep Scotland safe.”
The SFRS training centre at Newbridge was opened by Scotland’s Community Safety Minister Ash Denham in January and welcomed by Chief Officer Martin Blunden as a “a landmark occasion for our national Service”.
Firefighters staged a dramatic ‘rescue’ at a petrochemical facility to showcase their technical skills and mark the official launch of the £10.5million training centre.
It is now the second largest fire training site in Scotland and will equip 1,600 personnel from across 65 fire stations with the skills to respond to fires within domestic, industrial and commercial buildings.
Firefighters will also be trained to respond to road traffic collision, urban search and rescue, mass decontamination, rope rescue and water rescue.
Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said: “In common with our other emergency services, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service can be proud of the important work they are doing to keep our communities safe during the current Covid-19 emergency. Training is a key component in ensuring firefighters continue to have the skills and professional competencies they need to carry out their essential life-saving duties.
“I am pleased to see new recruits passing through the new purpose built training centre in the East of Scotland. These men and women will be a valuable addition in helping keep our communities safe during the challenging times we are experiencing.”