I was 37 when I decided to apply to become an apprentice. I applied online, carried out the written and physical tests, and was lucky enough to be invited to the assessment centre, where we had to take part in group exercises, role plays and an interview before being selected.
I am now on a level 3 operational firefighter apprenticeship with the London Fire Brigade, and I am in week seven of training, which focuses on real fire training. The apprenticeship lasts 18 months and covers thinks like community safety, operational training and operational response, but it will take up to 36 months for me to gain full competency as firefighter.
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Years ago, when I was at school, the fire brigade came in and did a presentation on the role of firefighter. However, no one mentioned apprenticeships when I was studying. This was in 1996 and this really sparked my first interest in firefighting as a career option.
I found out about the apprenticeship through word of mouth and social media articles. The radio campaign on female firefighters was particularly interesting and I quite liked the apprenticeship aspect of firefighter training.
It provides an opportunity for more structured learning and detailed to training due the way the apprenticeship standard is designed and actually, the firefighter training and apprenticeship go hand in hand nicely. They both cover the practical and theory aspects well and complement each other to get the best learning outcomes.
A big step
I like that learning is relevant to the job. I’m training at the moment and it’s all team work. We start the day together having breakfast and then follow the brief for the day – we know exactly what to expect in advance, which is supported by the studying we are asked to do in preparation. Today, for example, we did cable training and ladder work. I am not part of a watch yet as I’m still on initial training and will be allocated a station after I have completed my 11 weeks' training.
I love it. I’m doing what I enjoy. It’s a practical job and I’m doing what I’m passionate about. Senior officers are always available for help and support, even out of hours. My favourite part is the physical aspect, and working with people who share the same passion for the role. It feels like a real job and I don’t notice the apprenticeship side really. It’s all part of the job. Ultimately, once I am a firefighter, my goal will be to take on a promotion at the brigade.
My family has been been massively supportive. I’m a single mum of two children so it was a big step for me, but my family really encouraged me. My daughter is especially proud of me for doing this.
I would absolutely recommend this. Anyone interested in becoming a firefighter should find out more about the brigade’s apprenticeship scheme.
Kerrie Fisher, 37, is a level 3 operational firefighter apprenticeship with the London Fire Brigade. Her blog is part of the Tes #InspiringApprentices campaign