West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service officially welcomed 11 new wholetime firefighters yesterday (Thursday 11 May) at the successful completion of their intensive 14-week residential training course.
The newly qualified community firefighters performed fire and rescue drills at a pass out ceremony attended by their family, friends and dignitaries, including the Chief Fire Officer and leading members of West Sussex County Council.
Each recruit, who beat off competition from more than 700 applicants for their role, was presented with a certificate to mark the successful completion of their training course. There was also a special award for firefighter Ross Deck, who was presented with a silver axe for his outstanding performance throughout the course.
The training is the second recent course to be carried out in-house within West Sussex and was largely based at a residential centre at Horley Fire Station, which trained new wholetime recruits for the first time last year.
The recruits learned all of the skills they need to begin their careers as firefighters, including core skills, technical and water rescue and breathing apparatus training. They also successfully completed the new SECAmb Immediate Emergency Care Responder course.
During their training they took on an ambitious ladder climb at Gatwick Airport, scaling 6,070 metres, higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, in just two hours to raise more than £1,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity.
They now enter the development phase of their careers on stations across West Sussex.
Addressing the new recruits and their families WSFRS Chief Fire Officer Sean Ruth said: “You should be really proud of yourselves for everything you have achieved over the last 14 weeks.
“This is the beginning of your journey as firefighters. It is a journey that will be interesting, exciting and varied. Your experiences as a firefighter will never leave you. Never forget why you joined – to help and support people and to keep communities safer, stronger and more resilient. It is the best job in the world – welcome to the Fire and Rescue Service family.”
Our new recruits:
- Josh Moss, 25, is from Bognor and will now be based at Worthing. Before joining WSFRS he was a sports development coordinator.
- Stuart Williams, 24, has a family history with WSFRS. As well as working at Goodwood Aerodrome he was already a retained firefighter at Bognor, where his dad Rick and twin brother, Tom, also serve. His Mum Sandra, who is now retired, worked for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service as a 999 Operator for nearly 20 years. He will now be part of our Crewing Optimisation Group working across the county.
- Ryan Jones is our youngest new wholetime community firefighter, at just 19, but had previously worked as a Fire Control Officer with London Fire Brigade. He will now be based at Crawley.
- Two other recruits will be be joining him at the station in their home town. Harry Dean, 22, was a mechanical engineer before undergoing his training with WSFRS, while Ben Jenner, 25, previously worked as a builder and roofer.
- Chris Harrison, 33, is also no stranger to WSFRS, having previously worked in our training support team while serving as a retained firefighter in his home town of Worthing. He will now be based at East Grinstead.
- Burgess Hill will be the station for two of our new recruits who both, by chance, live in Rustington. Sebastian Esfahani, 32, is another firefighter to join our wholetime team after serving as a retained firefighter, in East Preston, while working as an aviation engineer, while Joe Friend, 25, was a gunner with the RAF before joining us.
- Ross Deck, 34, was a Royal Marine Commando before joining WSFRS and will now be based at Bognor.
- Lance Tuft, 26, is from Worthing and previously worked as a customer services advisor. He will now be joining our Crewing Optimisation Group working across the county.
- Andy Heward, 25, a former project manager from Worthing, will now be based at Littlehampton.
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is at the heart of West Sussex County Council's Communities and Public Protection Directorate, working to support communities to become safer, stronger and more resilient through a combination of prevention, protection and response activities.