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Fire And Emergency Welcomes 28 New Firefighters

An outdoor instructor, beekeeper and paramedic were among 28 new recruits who graduated as firefighters today at Fire and Emergency’s National Training Centre in Rotorua.

During the ceremony the group demonstrated a number of firefighting scenario exercises for their family and friends, displaying the skills they have learned over the past three months.

The current group of graduates represents an increasingly diverse range of people who want to become career firefighters. They range in age from 18 to 45 years old and include six Maori, and four people from countries other than New Zealand.

"I'm forty-one and at first I thought I was too late to be a firefighter. But I decided to go for it and pretty quickly found age is not a barrier," says Tim Tautau.

"Our course had an amazing diverse group of people from all walks of life -and we all gelled really well."

Tim is a man of many talents having worked in fisheries, forestry, film and as a pastor. Most recently he was a beekeeper in Ahipara.

That’s where he got the taste for firefighting, volunteering with the Ahipara Volunteer Fire Brigade for a year. Now he’s living in Palmerston North, no longer beekeeping. He wanted a different lifestyle and was drawn to the variety and comradery of firefighting.

Tim will be commuting from the Manawatu to join the crew at Johnsonville fire station.

Elsy Didsbury was one of five women on the course and encourages other women to consider becoming a firefighter.

"I say go for it! It’s worth the training and you definitely come away feeling strong and ready for the job," says Elsy.

Elsy was an outdoor activities instructor in Whangārei, but after taking some time to look after her two kids, she was looking for a change.

"I’d been a stay at home mum for five years, so had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do when I re-joined the workforce," says Elsy.

"I wanted a meaningful job where I could work in the community, for the community, with a team of people.

"Firefighting was a natural fit where I could use a lot of the skills I learnt as an outdoor activities instructor - like teamwork, managing risks and keeping people safe."

Elsy can’t wait to join the team at Whangārei Fire Station and put her new skills into action.

Josh Gaby-Sutherland had a lot of firefighting experience, coming from the Army, Hamilton Airport Fire Rescue and two years of volunteering with Ngaruawahia Volunteer Fire Brigade. He loved the excitement and variety of the job and was ready to make it a full-time career.

"Who doesn’t want to be a firefighter," says Josh. "It’s very rewarding being able to serve the community and help people when they need it most."

"My favourite part of the course was the live fire training."

Josh is looking forward to getting started at Mangere Fire Station - even if he is a bit nervous about being the "rookie".

Chris Farac spent seven years as a volunteer firefighter. Most recently this was with Silverdale Volunteer Fire Brigade at Silverdale Station where he will now join them as a career firefighter.

"I had been a paramedic for 11 years. I loved working in the community and helping people, but wanted a new challenge," says Chris.

"The physical side of firefighting and variety of incidents firefighters respond to, caught my attention. I decided to apply to be a career firefighter and haven’t looked back."

"I am looking forward to bringing the skills I learnt from my old job into this new role."

The recruits can now put away their green trainee helmets and take their new yellow operational helmets to their fire stations - ready to put their new skills to use in the community.

Deployment locations

The 28 firefighter graduates will be deployed to the following areas.

Wellington - 12

Auckland - 13

Whangerei - 2

Tasman/Marlborough - 1

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