GMFRS welcomes new apprentice firefighters to its team

GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has welcomed its latest firefighter recruits thanks to funding from a pioneering apprentice scheme.

Earlier today (Thursday 17 December) 24 apprentice firefighters celebrated the completion of a challenging 15-week training course at a ‘Passing Out Parade’, which was livestreamed for families to watch from the safety of their own homes.

It follows a similar event in October when 22 apprentices passed their training. For the first time, the training of most of the new recruits has been funded by the Co-op through the Greater Manchester Levy Matchmaking Service.

The Matchmaking Service is delivered by The Growth Company and since it launched in 2019, Greater Manchester has been paving the way in providing apprenticeship opportunities for local people. The service has continued to link the city-region’s businesses with a skilled workforce despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Levy, the Co-op has transferred £496,964 of its levy funds to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) – which GMFRS has been a part of since May 2017 – to cover the cost of training for 42 apprentice firefighters.

Cllr Sean Fielding, GMCA lead on Employment, Skills and Digital, said: “The Greater Manchester Levy Matchmaking Service gives local employers the confidence that any unspent levy funds stay within Greater Manchester, giving us maximum value for money, and support the creation and development of more apprenticeships than they are able to employ themselves.

“People living or working in our city-region should have a chance to break into the industry of their choice and gain the confidence, and crucially the valuable skills and experience that are the product of completing a successful apprenticeship.”

Adrian Healey, Project lead at The Growth Company, said: “Our digital Levy Matchmaking Service launched in August 2019 and has been received positively by levy payers looking to help other organisations in the region. The free service continues to help businesses across the city-region who are looking for support with the costs of apprenticeship training and to date has matched over £3m of levy transfer. We are delighted the Co-op has been able to use the system to support the transfer of levy funds in Greater Manchester and thank them for their continued support.”

Co-op CEO Steve Murrells said: “Giving people the opportunity to make their mark through an apprenticeship can drive social mobility and help tackle the persistent inequalities in our society. I want to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to fulfil their potential and I continue to see the energy, enthusiasm and new ways of thinking apprentices bring to the Co-op. That’s why I champion creating apprenticeships within our Co-op, but also in partnership with organisations such as GMFRS, where we can share our unspent levy to support our communities.”

Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “The Greater Manchester Levy Matchmaking Service has been proving successful since it began and trailblazes our city-region as a place for doing things differently. Despite the pandemic we have seen a number of new apprenticeships begin in Greater Manchester, including our latest cohorts of firefighters – who I wish every success with their careers.”

At today’s event, four apprentices were presented with awards by Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Dave Russel, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Keelan, and Area Manager Stewart Forshaw.

  • Endeavour award – Zack Fox

  • Academic award – Thomas Wilks

  • Fitness award – George Osmond

  • Silver Axe award – Rhys Phillips

The Silver Axe is presented by the CFO to the apprentice firefighter who has displayed and maintained exemplary standards in all aspects of the training course.

During the event, CFO Dave Russel, said: “I know our new firefighters have put a lot of time, effort and dedication into the intense training course. It is a brilliant accomplishment to become a firefighter at GMFRS and I hope that our new recruits share the pride in their achievements that will be felt by their friends, families and new colleagues across Greater Manchester.

“I only started at GMFRS as Chief Fire Officer in September and have already seen true demonstrations of commitment, professionalism and pride – and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the GMFRS family. I wish you all the best for the future in your careers with the Service.”

Each apprentice firefighter is now working at a community fire station where they will protect and serve the people of Greater Manchester.

If you are interested in becoming an apprentice firefighter in Greater Manchester then head to the GMFRS website - where you can learn more about the roles and services available, and complete an ‘expression of interest’ form.  

Applications are particularly welcomed and encouraged from groups who are currently under-represented in our Service, including people who identify as female, people from minority ethnic groups, people who are not in education, employment or training, and those who identify as LGBT+.  



16/12/2020 15:44 PM