A FORMER Paratrooper, boxing grandmother and a design agency account manager are just some of the 18 people joining the frontline in Greater Manchester.
The new firefighters will begin their operational careers across the county with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) following an intensive 16-week training course.
During training the new firefighters have been put through their paces, learning how to deal with an array of emergency situations including fires, rescues from water and road traffic collisions.
Their training culminated on Thursday (Dec 15) with a demonstration and pass out parade at Manchester Training and Development Centre, where the course had been delivered.
Peter O’Reilly, County Fire Officer and Chief Executivesaid: “On behalf of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), the Chair and members of the Fire Authority I would like to firstly congratulate and welcome the latest firefighters.
“After having been through an intensive 16 week training course the new firefighters are joining a proud service which is on the cutting edge of future firefighting techniques. This course has given each of the new firefighters invaluable skills and seen them undergo rigorous tests to ensure they are ready to effectively serve the people of Greater Manchester as firefighters.
"Their hard work and training has culminated into a passing out parade, attended by friends and families, where drills and exercises will be performed before the official presentation.
“I would like to finish by saying to all the new fire fighters, welcome to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, I wish you all the very best for your future careers with GMFRS.”
The new fire fighters will be working for their first year at the following fire stations:
Trafford and Salford
Glenn Innis (27) will be based at Salford Fire Station. Glenn plays a variety of sports and is proud to be a firefighter at GMFRS.
Chris Arnison (24) will be based at Eccles Fire Station. In his spare time Chris likes to keep fit by playing football or boxing.
Jéan-Pierre Prinsloo (32) will be based at Eccles Fire Station. Jéan-Pierre is used to hard work and being part of a team having previously been a Paratrooper.
Dan Taylor (32) will be based at Phillips Park Fire Station. When at home Dan likes to play bass guitar and read to help relax.
Kyle Barnett (24) will be based at Gorton Fire Station. Kyle has previously worked as a fire ground assistant, enjoying football and football management in his spare time.
Ben Kenny (24) will be based at Blackley Fire Station. Ben has took on the challenge of not just becoming a firefighter but perhaps harder still – becoming a parent, with his partner due to give birth soon.
Laura-Jo Dicken (22) will be based at Wythenshawe Fire Station. Laura is this year’s winner of the silver axe, given to the top performing fire fighter and she is also the first female firefighter to win the award.
Rachelle Brooks (44) will be based at Moss Side Fire Station. Rachelle is a talented boxer and does a lot of work with young offenders.
Christian Connolly (25) will be based at Wythenshawe Fire Station. Christian is excited to progress in his fire service career and looks forward to learning from the team he’ll be in.
Stockport and Tameside
Joe Malone (23) will be based at Ashton Fire Station. Joe is an avid football supporter, always keeping up to date with how Manchester City are doing.
Curtis Parris (27) will be based at Hyde Fire Station. Curtis is a keen sportsman, often taking part in football, basketball or athletics.
Oldham, Bury and Rochdale
Jenna Cahill (30) will be based at Hollins Fire Station. Jenna spends a lot of time with her family whilst occasionally partaking in her old hobbies – gymnastics and cheerleading.
Chelsea Thomason (23) will be based at Rochdale Fire Station. Chelsea spends her free time with friends and family, often watching films at the cinema with them.
Michelle Armitage (29) will be based at Rochdale Fire Station. Michelle is originally from New Zealand so is naturally a lover of the outdoors – enjoying exploring farms, parks and the great outdoors.
Sam Smith (28) will be based at Whitefield Fire Station. When not working Sam likes to keep fit by playing football and going to the gym.
Bolton and Wigan
Graham Holmes (34) will be based at Farnworth Fire Station. Graham is one of our fittest new firefighters, having gained numerous fitness qualifications which help him deliver Personal Training.
Jack McCarthy (27) will be based at Farnworth Fire Station. Jack is a family man and enjoys taking his daughters out to see new places.
Oliver Doyle (24) will be based at Bolton Fire Station. Oliver is a keen musician and enjoys playing the classic guitar in his spare time.
Tony Bryan, Operational Training Delivery Managerat GMFRS Training Centre, added: "These 18 new firefighters have been put through their paces in a challenging training course and it is a real achievement for them and our training staff that they got through the selection process and intensive course.
"I wish every individual in this group of firefighters all the very best in the career that lies ahead of them knowing GMFRS and the talented staff we have here will support them to become truly great firefighters."
Photographs: available from GMFRS Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterfire/
For more information, please contact Sian Howard, Events Officers at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, on 0161 608 4155
Notes to editors:
Comments/quotes from each of the new fire fighters below for your use with any copy:
Jenna Cahill is 30 years old and lives in Chadderton. Jenna joined GMFRS as trainee firefighter after previously working for Greater Manchester Police as a dispatcher. She occasionally trains in gymnastics and cheerleading as well as spending time with her family. Regarding her role as a firefighter Jenna said: “Even though the recruitment process was tough there was plenty of support available to get me through it. I think the best thing about the role will be being able to make a difference in people’s lives whilst doing a job that I love.”
Glenn Innis is 27 years old and lives in Manchester. Glenn became a trainee firefighter after working as a customer service advisor. In his spare time Glenn likes to play sports which has helped him keep fit during training. Glenn has said: “One of the plusses about being firefighter for me is the ability to make a difference to people’s lives – helping people fills me with a real sense of pride. I’m also filled with nervous anticipation, never knowing what to expect and having to react quickly to a variety of situations.
Chelsea Thomason is 23 years old and lives in Bury. Chelsea has previously worked as a swimming teacher, supply teacher and games organiser for a school before becoming a trainee firefighter. She enjoys playing sports and spending time with her family when she can. Chelsea said: “I’m looking forward to continuing to help the community by saving people from dangerous situations and helping to improve their lives. If I had to give advice to anybody else that was interested in becoming a firefighter I would say, ‘go for it and give 100%’, it’s been a fantastic experience.”
Joe Malone is 23 years old and lives in Rochdale. Joe joined GMFRS as a trainee firefighter after being in the Royal Air Force. In his spare time he enjoys playing football and supports Manchester City FC. Joe has said: “I’m looking forward to serving the community that I grew up in and being able to help and support the people that live there. I know as a firefighter you never stop learning and I’m really looking forward to beginning my journey and getting some real life experience.”
Dan Taylor is 32 years old and lives in Manchester. Previously, Dan spent five years working as a teaching assistant at a primary school as well as a football volunteer for GMFRS. Outside of work he enjoys reading, playing football and playing bass guitar. Dan said: “I can’t wait to become a firefighter and I’m particularly looking forward to the new challenge. I came from a totally different career and was initially concerned how I would manage but with some hard work I’ve been OK and really enjoyed it so far.”
Graham Holmes is 34 years old and lives in Tyldesley. Graham previously worked for GMFRS as part of the Community Risk Intervention Team and as a community safety advisor in Bolton. Dan has said: “I’m looking forward to facing different challenges every day and learning new skills as part of being a firefighter. I would encourage others to push themselves beyond their boundaries – the process of becoming a firefighter has been hard but very rewarding.”
Jack McCarthy is 27 years old and lives in Worsley. Jack has previously worked as an account manager and a Royal Military police officer in the Army. Outside of work Jack spends time with his family and loves to take his daughters out on trips. When asked about becoming a firefighter Jack said: “My family are incredibly proud of me becoming a firefighter, and I’m really proud of myself in that I have this unique purpose in serving my local community. My only fear is failure, but I soon realised the comradery, training and support at GMFRS will prevent any failure.”
Curtis Parris is 27 years old and lives in Hyde. Curtis joined GMFRS as a trainee firefighter after previously working at Greater Manchester Police as a police community support, a housing officer and has also been in the Armed Forces. In his spare time Curtis enjoys sports such as football, basketball and athletics and said: “I see becoming a fire fighter as a great way to test myself in what is obviously a very demanding job. I can’t wait to work with the rest of the team and learn from them as well as being exposed to plenty of new experiences.”
Kyle Barnett is this year’s youngest trainee firefighter at just 20 years old and lives in Manchester. Kyle worked for the Prince’s Trust and as a fire ground assistant before joining the trainee scheme. When speaking about becoming a firefighter Kyle said: “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and gaining experience as a firefighter. Although I feel slightly nervous about the first incident I’m called out on it will be really rewarding to be able to keep the community safe.”
Ben Kenny is 24 years old and lives in Bolton. He previously worked in the Royal Navy for five years and then as a crewing assistant in the Emergency Response Hub. Speaking about becoming a firefighter Ben said: “One of the things that I think I’ll find most interesting are the dynamic working situations. We will have to react quickly to pressured situations and work effectively to protect people, the comradery I’ll develop with my team is something I will treasure.”
Chris Arnison is 24 years old and lives in Manchester. Chris joined GMFRS after working as an electrician. In his spare time Chris enjoys football and boxing and said: “I’m looking forward to working in a team as well as focusing on my personal development by constantly learning from experiences. I enjoy work, I have enjoyed my firefighter training and I think this will be the perfect job for me.”
Laura-Jo Dicken is 22 years old and lives in Macclesfield. She previously worked as an on-call firefighter and fitness instructor before becoming a trainee firefighter. Laura is this year’s winner of the silver axe, an award given to the top performing trainee firefighter from the intake of firefighters. Laura said: “I take firefighting very seriously, it’s an incredibly difficult job and there will be a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. Helping the public will be the most rewarding part of the role and that aspect of the job is almost unique to the fire service.”
Michelle Armitage is 29 years old and has recently moved to Huddersfield from New Zealand. She has previously worked as an account manager at a design agency before joining GMFRS as a trainee firefighter. Michelle enjoys spending time with her family as well as climbing, running and exploring the outdoors. Michelle said: “I can’t wait to get into my station and meet all the other firefighters. This role really appealed to me as I will be able to remain active, which is a big part of my life, as well as help the public.”
Rachelle Brooks is 44 years old and lives in Chorley. In her family life Rachelle is lucky enough to have two children and two grandchildren. She has previously worked as a retained firefighter for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, a boxing coach and a personal trainer before joining GMFRS as a trainee firefighter. When speaking about the fire service she said: “Training to become a firefighter has been both physically and mentally draining but I’m really proud of myself for finishing the course. I’ve learnt so much from everybody at GMFRS and can’t wait to get deployed to a station now.”
Sam Smith is 28 years old and lives in Manchester. Sam worked as a police officer for nine years before becoming a trainee firefighter. He built up the fitness levels a firefighter requires by going to the gym and playing a lot of football. Sam said: “I’m used to being part of a team and that continuation in my life is something that attracted me to being a firefighter. I also like hands on work and being a positive force in the community so being a firefighter seems like a natural fit for me.”
Jéan-Pierre Prinsloo is 32 years old and lives in Tyldesley. Jéan-Pierrehas experience of working in a team having previously been a paratrooper before training to be a GMFRS firefighter. When asked what advice he would give to new firefighter recruits he said: “Number one - get as fit as you can – anything you do before the training begins will come in really useful. Number two – It’s hard but try to expect the unexpected, with this role you never know what’s going to happen so try to be ready.
Christian Connolly is 25 years old and lives in Manchester. Christian previously worked as an outdoor instructor and was a member of the GMFRS Community Rise Intervention Team. Christian has aspirations to further his career in the fire service stating: “I want to experience as much as possible and tap into the pools of knowledge that are available. I hope that and l will get to progress in my career by learning from people and the variety of roles I will undertake.”
Oliver Doyle is 24 years old and lives in Bolton. Oliver previously worked as a fire and operations officer at Barton Aerodrome, learning some of the core skills required as a fire fighter. Oliver has said: “I’m looking forward to making a difference within the community and would advise others thinking about becoming a firefighter to ‘just do it’.”