Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is celebrating after being commended by Ofsted Inspectors for producing some of the best and most highly skilled firefighters in the country.
The education watchdog visited MFRS’ Training & Development Academy (TDA) in June as part of a monitoring visit. In a report published this week, inspectors said the Service had made “significant progress” in all areas – the highest judgement a provider can receive.
MFRS first began delivering firefighter apprenticeships in September 2019. The Service currently has 93 apprentices who are studying the level 3 operational firefighter apprenticeship standard.
Apprentices begin their career on a 15-week recruit course at the TDA, where they learn how to deal with a variety of incidents through fire behaviour training, road traffic collision training, safe working at height, water rescue, terrorism and Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) training.
Inspectors recognised the “unwavering intention of governors and leaders to produce the best operational firefighters in the country”, adding that “leaders and managers have developed an ambitious and challenging curriculum” to ensure their apprentices develop “substantial knowledge, skills and behaviours beyond the requirements of the apprenticeship”.
In her report, lead Inspector Kim Bleasdale said: “Apprentices routinely develop substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours. They learn how to skilfully manage marauding terrorist attacks, as well as a wide range of chemical, biological and radiological incidents. Apprentices become highly skilled, confident firefighters who are making a difference in their community.”
The report adds that MFRS instructors are highly experienced and well qualified in the roles, with extra support given to enable them to continually update their occupational knowledge and skills.
Ashley Roberts, Apprenticeship Manager at MFRS, said: “Our apprentices are at the heart of what we deliver to our communities. We pride ourselves on training our firefighters to the highest standard and the Ofsted inspection report shows that what we are doing is the best practice .”
The report comes as the first cohort of firefighter apprentices completed their end-point assessment with a 100% pass rate and 89% distinction. Apprentices from Course 03/19 had a gruelling two-day external assessment involving road traffic collision, breathing apparatus and HAZMAT, followed by a written exam and professional discussion.
Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “Our vision is to be the best fire and rescue service in the country, and that means having the very best people at our core to help us to keep our communities safe.
“Receiving ‘significant progress’ across all three areas of this Ofsted inspection is extremely rare, especially when we only commenced the firefighter apprenticeship programme less than two years ago. To say I am extremely proud is an understatement as I know how hard staff have worked to get us to this point. This inspection is testament not only to our staff and instructors at the Training & Development Academy, the teams who continue to develop their skills on station but of course to our apprentice firefighters themselves, because without their passion and eagerness to learn, this would not be possible.
“This inspection reinforces further our progress towards our ambition to be the best – for the public and our workforce – because not only does it assure us that we have competent firefighters looking after the public, but that they are also very well equipped to look after each other.”
MFRS offers apprenticeships across the majority of its departments, ranging from business administration to operational firefighter. To find out more about apprenticeships at MFRS and how they can help you, visit www.merseyfire.gov.uk/careers/roles/apprenticeships
We also provide smoke alarms free of charge to those over 65 or meeting certain criteria. To find out if you are eligible or for free fire safety advice, please call 0800 731 5958.