New recruits 2017 blog
Having got through online testing, a swim test, physical and practical tests and finally an interview, our 20 new recruits were selected and began their course at Immingham West on Monday 9 January, 2017.
Over the 13 weeks of intensive training the recruits will be writing a blog to give potential future applicants a feel for what it takes to become a full-time firefighter.
Week 6 (13 - 17 February)
Recruit FF Liam Houlden (Blue Squad)
This week in Blue Squad we have been introduced to the world of road traffic collisions (RTC). This will allow us to put into practice all of our IEC training from the previous week. We started our week with some lectures about RTCs, the roles of the fire and rescue service at these types of incident and the interoperability between other agencies, not just ambulance and police.
Early in the week we were fully introduced to the concept of the six stages of an RTC and everyone was eager to start cutting up some cars! The extrication team were available to us for one of the days which was a great benefit to see what a team can accomplish when they work together.
Next came the fun part, using the various equipment used at RTCs - most of it pretty heavy! Once we had familiarized ourselves, we had to go through a list of scenarios that we could potentially come across, such as collisions where a car is on 4 wheels, a car on its roof, a car on its side, and even one car on top of another.
There isn’t as much running around like in our core skills week, but you certainly break a sweat with the heavy lifting as the PPE doesn’t allow the heat to escape too well.
By the Friday we were rolling up to mock incidents in the fire appliances not knowing what we would be faced with and dealing with it using skills we had built up through the week. Live casualties screaming in 'pain' added a lot of realism to the scenarios.
The course ended on Monday 20 February with a written exam and an afternoon familiarisation on HGV incidents. This means we are now approaching the half way point of the course and it seems to be accelerating as we move into Swift Water Rescue week which I think will be a personal highlight, and hope we will be as close to our watches as we are now with our squads.
Recruit FF William Dodd (Red Squad)
Following on from the last blog, we did receive our postings! Some happier than others at their stations, some stations have luckily got two recruits on the same watch, meaning double the biscuits! Regardless though, we’re all grateful to be here as we are the final 20 out of over 2000 applicants and the first recruits course for ten years…not that anyone’s mentioned it to us….!!!
Week six for Red Squad brought with it another week of BA, which includes the instructors driving/stalling the minibus with us all on to HQ every day. Monday included a morning of theory before practicing our BA Shuffle for the end of course night out. The afternoon was our hot wear, which I was thankful for as I needed to defrost after doing ECO for what felt like an eternity!
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed finally getting our teeth into proper BA search and rescue during a ‘hot wear’. The command unit from Brough visited us on the night time, insightful for us all and worthwhile visiting to allow us all an appreciation of the unit, but unfortunately they didn’t have the Sky Sports package to watch the Man City game!
Tuesday consisted of a hot wear in the morning, conditions significantly hotter than our previous hot wear which made it harder, but also enjoyable (especially the hose reel management, we all loved that!). We then spent an afternoon of theory, we covered a case study that really reiterated the importance of following our BA procedures.
Wednesday brought with it a proper hot wear, someone (yet to be identified) complained the wears weren’t hot enough! We paid for it in the afternoon, having to bring casualties out by going directly into and above the fire compartment (toasty!) radial cooling was finally used!
Thinking the ‘hot wears’ couldn’t get any worse, the instructors had more up their sleeves for Thursday. Descending from the second floor into the very, very hot heat layer to bring (many!) casualties back up the never ending staircase…and to add to it, half of us got to do it twice!
Friday involved a hot wear in the morning along with theory and an entanglement session in the afternoon. Some flew through and some seemed to aim for every possible wire that was there. Another week down for us all, nearly half way now!
Week 5 (6 - 10 February)
Recruit FF Nick Kingett (Blue Squad)
This week has seen our group of ten recruits in Blue Squad introduced to immediate emergency care (IEC) and trauma care. My fellow colleagues in Red Squad are continuing with their breathing apparatus course which will last a further two weeks.
The IEC course introduced us to casualty assessment, triage, trauma principles and management of injuries. The course was delivered via Powerpoint and practical hands on experience with techniques including: CPR and defibrillation, identification and stemming of catastrophic bleeds, choking management and primary and secondary surveys.
We had lots of hands on experience with instructors acting as casualties using tools and aids such as fake blood and fake wounds for us to gain valuable experience and create realistic injuries.
Morale is still high and we are working hard as a group and helping each other to revise and practice. There is a real emphasis on thorough patient assessment.
Ongoing life on station requires us to maintain the high standard that we achieved so far and the cleaning and maintenance is still a big part of our working day. Ultimately we are all still having lots of fun in a relaxed, productive working environment. I personally feel blessed to be part of the process. This week we found out where we are going to be stationed. Looking forward to the remaining training phases with RTC to follow next week.
Recruit FF William Dodd (Red Squad)
Week five is the start of our specialism weeks. Red and Blue Squads have been separated off to do different things: for Red its Breathing Apparatus (BA) training and for Blue it’s an ‘intensive’ week of IEC.
Red Squad set off apprehensively to HQ for our first day of BA training. We turned up and it’s a different atmosphere from sunny, warm Immingham! We had a morning of theory and familiarising ourselves with the BA sets whilst missing Terry’s bacon sandwiches!.
The afternoon consisted of going around the OTC and the dreaded Smartie tube! It's allegedly just two 'small' oil drums welded together, but it feels a lot longer than that! We all completed it and discovered just how dirty we’re going to be over the next few weeks - and there wasn’t even a fire lit!
Tuesday was another day at HQ, a morning of theory and an afternoon of exercises, including set removal, lost in smoke and using an EASE Pack. Still no flames or smoke to contend with and we also discovered who guzzles the most air and who can seemingly breathe through their backside!
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday consisted of Compartment Fire Behaviour Training, learning about fire development and behaviour before the BA course fully kicks off!
We started with sitting in a metal can and watching a fire develop and then progressed onto how to tackle the fire, with and without a door open. Each fire getting hotter as we went!
We all thoroughly enjoyed this and if we didn’t we’d be in the wrong job! We also learnt not to put our masks on too tightly as the heat combined with pulsating heads isn’t a brilliant feeling.
We find out our station placements today (Friday) allegedly, fingers crossed for us all!
Week 4 (30 January - 3 February)
Recruit FF Eleanor Westmancott
So after another ridiculously fast weekend, we're back to begin our first specialist training area - working at heights.
Day one is a longggggg day in the classroom, learning the ins and outs of safety with the no.1 rule being 'don’t fall', along with the names and uses of lots of new fancy pieces of equipment. Our brains may have been tired, but hopes of an early dinner were quickly out the window with a 7 mile run to welcome us back from the weekend. We just about survived the streets of Immingham, but there were lots of aching limbs on station!
The fun begins on day two when we start lowering each other over the edge of buildings to rescue dummies whilst suspended in surprisingly comfy harnesses.
Day three begins with a morning in the pool with many lengths of front crawl in prep for water rescue. When we get back, it's all systems go as the media and the Chief and many other important people are awaiting a performance drill of what we have learnt and interviews on how we're finding the course which brought a lot of excitement around the station.
As soon as the cameras are gone, it’s quickly back to work with different casualty carry downs, which meant getting very up close and personal with a dummy on a ladder and resulted in a lot of bruises.
After more combination drills and lectures including aggressive behaviour with some brilliant catwalk worthy demonstrations from a few of the boys, Friday quickly came around.
After another tiring week and the relief of another passed exam, it feels like everything is slowly starting to come together. Bring on a nice relaxing weekend and whatever lies in store for week five.
Recruit FF Lee Mart
Been introduced to working at height this week, performing ‘pick off’ rescues, working on roof ladders, casualty handling and carry downs on ladders and much more!
The Chair of the Fire Authority, the Chief Fire Officer and members of the press came to visit us here at Immingham on Wednesday and we put on a bit of a show for them with a combination drill, consisting of a bit of everything we had learnt up to that point.
Thankfully, all elements went extremely well, despite the pressure on us to perform in front of such a crowd so early on in our course. We even made ITV Calendar's evening news!
This week’s lectures have included aircraft and helicopter scenarios, dealing with aggressive behaviour and operational risk information.
Also we had an introduction to the HVP (High Volume Pump) from Beverley. After a busy five days, we were all pleased to pass our end of week assessments.
Next week Blue Squad are ready to get stuck in to IEC (Immediate Emergency Care), while Red Squad leave us to go to Service Headquarters in Hull to start their three days of breathing apparatus training!
Week 3 (23 -27 January)
Recruit FF Sophie Hedges
Back to the 'city lights' of Immingham and our weekday home. No time to relax, as we get straight back into our routines of ironing and bulling as we looked forward to the jam packed week that lay ahead of us. With lectures on silos, chimney fires, trenches and small gear, the midweek foam application practical that took us off site could not have come quick enough. Yes, it might have only been 200m down the road, but all 20 of us were like kids at Christmas.
Week three brought about a number of new tasks for some of us, as marching was introduced to the squad. Head up, chest out, arms straight and thumbs pointed an hour later we were starting to get the hang of it!
The turn out system was another added feature to this week. As the ‘bells’ sound, we rush from wherever we are in the station to our fire kit, get dressed and line up by our respective appliances as the Station Manager awaits with her stop watch. Ten weeks to perfect our response time before heading to station...phew!
At end of the week we were sat in silence in the classroom for our Friday exam, before being treated to external guests informing us on the Yorkshire water course and the effects our actions have on hydrants and water surges through the system. Ongo locksmiths then demonstrated how to effectively break and enter into a property without hammering in a composite door with a size 9 boot! 20 Yale locks later it was time for our practical exam. Luckily we all passed and could enjoy the weekend ahead.
Recruit FF Lee Mart
Enjoyed yet another busy week here!
Studying silos, sewers, salvage, chimney fires, trench collapses, foam and ways in which we protect the environment during our operations, and much, much more.
Again lots to take in and revise for the end of week exams, alongside practical exams based on all our basic fireground skills, from using pumps, learning to tie different knots and pitching ladders. Really looking forward to next week when we will be studying ‘working at height’.
Think the Fire Authority and press are coming over on Wednesday to see how we are all getting on and look at the new facilities here in Immingham.
Three weeks gone already… time is flying by! All looking forward to a well deserved rest at the weekend.
Week 2 (16-20 January)
Recruit FF Eleanor Westmancoat
Well, the weekend flew by insanely fast and, before we know it, we were back shining shoes and ironing creases ready to begin week two.
My brain is still frying from all the information of week one, but if we thought the work load was going to ease up, we couldn’t be more wrong! The early morning cleaning and standing outside in the ‘fresh’ Immingham air waiting for inspection is starting to become the normal start to a day.
The mornings in the classrooms are a real test of concentration as we learn the ins and outs of pumps and primers and dinnertimes are filled with questions flying across tables as we all try to absorb as much as possible with double exams on Friday looming over us.
If running around the drill yard and getting to grips with hoses and hydrants hadn’t got my brain in overdrive, a confined pitch (should be called 'confused pitch') with a 13.5m ladder certainly has. As the week progresses, I am still trying to suss a comfortable position for my bun in my helmet and getting used to the instant sweat that comes with doing the smallest of tasks in full fire kit. The more time I spend here, the more I realise just how much I have to learn and wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.
Week two has also brought with it the joyous challenge of not only learning how to tie lots of knots, but tieing knots whilst wearing chunky firefighter gloves! Turns out this is no easy task!
So with knots, ladders and assessments, our second week has definitely been jam packed, challenging and exhausting - but they did warn us on day one that it wasn’t going to be easy. After the relief and smiles as we passed our first exams we end week two on a high and are all excited for a well deserved weekend off and looking forward to whatever week three has in store!
Recruit FF Lee Mart
In to week two in sunny Immingham!
Much more practical drills to get stuck into this week, alongside many lectures with a huge amount to take in and revise for the end of week two exams. As a squad we’re better settled into our daily routines now and building great working relationships together. Everyone knows what they’ve got to do. Maintaining our high standards on the drill ground and in personal appearance with our kit.
We’ve had our first swimming lesson this week which was quite challenging for many of us, but all preparing us for our water rescue technician course in a few weeks time. We look forward to moving onto week three on a happy vibe, having all passed our first exams this week.
Can't wait to get stuck in to what next week brings!
Week 1 (9-13 January)
Recruit FF Lee Mart
Well what a first week it’s been! We are all finding our feet, but as a group we have started to work and live together extremely well. We have been already been split into two groups, Red and Blue, allowing rotation of exercises, lectures and duties when necessary.
Since arriving at the new training facility at Immingham West on Sunday 8 January, we have all been allocated our rooms in groups of four and been given specific duties that form part of our strict daily routine.
Up to now this has involved thoroughly cleaning all parts of the fire station, cleaning and maintaining fire appliances, washing / ironing / folding uniform and bedding and polishing shoes to a very high standard set by the course instructors. All this on top of many classroom lectures and physically demanding training exercises.
Monday was a long day, introducing ourselves to the group, meeting many of Humberside's senior officers and even getting the lowdown on the Service's social media policy!
It’s been a tough week for all of us, but we are feeling very fortunate to be here and putting 100% effort into all we do. It’s non-stop from the minute we wake up to the second our head touches the pillow at night. Bring on week two!
Recruit FF Sophie Hedges
Phew! First week over and done with! 219 miles away from rolling fields to the tarmac and smoke plumes of Immingham. Culture shock for sure. But once you put on an extra layer of clothing and get used to the fluffy smoke clouds, the apprehension dies down, taking the nerves with it.
I think it’s safe to say both Red and Blue Squads are settling in and getting into the swing of things. The day of a trainee firefighter starts with the sound of rumbling stomachs echoing around the station as we clean it, ensuring it is presentable for visiting guests. We are then rewarded with a hefty breakfast setting us up for the day of information ahead. Being the first week, we have had a large amount of admin to do before getting on to the practical element. Let’s face it - that’s why we are all really here!
The days have been long and tough, consisting of recalling old skills, like getting used to sitting in a classroom for long periods of time again and new ones...bulling shoes!? What does that even mean!?
We’ve chosen our wish list of stations, had information overload on pumps and primers, got dead arms from running out 70mm hose, had the strangest face mask fit tests and got our hands on some extinguishers to put out some real life orange flickery stuff.
Looking back over the week I realise I have good reason to be tired! But hey, what an achievement, five days in and the creases are forming in our ‘number 1’ shirts and trousers, we manage to successfully parade without smiling and the shine on our shoes is coming along (cotton wool, polish and nylon tights, who knew!?).
Suddenly the 12 weeks that lay out in front of us aren’t looking so daunting. Roll on week two.