Prior to starting the Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship, Erica previously undertook the Community Safety Apprenticeship.
Erica commented that “undertaking my previous apprenticeship allowed me to gain the right knowledge, skills and behaviours in fire prevention and community work.”
“I initially went to University to study Illustration. After graduation, I struggled to find a job within the arts, and I was not sure which career to take. I had multiple part-time jobs! I found out about apprenticeships through someone I worked with. I decided it would be a good fit, I decided to apply, and luckily received a place on the apprenticeship!”
I feel very fortunate to me employed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, they are such an inclusive and supportive organisation. I have really enjoyed working in different departments through my apprenticeship. Each area has had a fantastic and inviting working environment.”
We asked Erica about the type of off-the-job learning she has been undertaking during her time as an apprentice in the fire & rescue sector, she added:
“During my last apprenticeship, I received training in many areas of prevention. I was able to learn about behavioural change techniques, why people set fires, fire protection, and attend workshops including team building and character analysis.
“The hardest challenge has been when Covid-19 began to spread throughout the world, causing a global pandemic. As an apprentice cohort, we had many activities planned for our apprenticeship, including fundraising for a charity called Classroom in The Clouds. Through our fundraising, we had planned to go to Nepal to help build a classroom for children who need access to educational facilities.
“These plans were put on hold and our normal working week changed dramatically. I worked from home for the majority and I had to become dynamic and flexible. I took on new jobs within the prevention department to support the community. Though this was a difficult time for all of us, I was able to gain resilience and my work felt incredibly worthwhile.
“The best part of the apprenticeship has been working with all my fellow apprentices and being part of a team. We have all become good friends and have supported each other throughout. It is also exciting to all be starting the Operational Firefighter apprenticeship as a group, with the addition of two new recruits.”
“I also loved the variety of the Community Safety Apprenticeship where I experienced different departments, giving me knowledge of the service as a whole and the importance of all the different work that we do. Working for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has made me feel proud. My job is very worth-while and I am making a difference and helping people in the community.”
Here at SFJ Awards, we’re thrilled to hear about Erica’s journey so far, and have no doubt that she’ll continue to develop her skills and support the communities who need it most. We asked Erica what’s in store next:
“I am currently undertaking a 16-week recruits’ course, which I hope to pass and become a development Firefighter. I will also be stationed as a Firefighter and start to attend incidents as part of a watch. I am looking forward to gaining all of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that I will need to become competent in my role.”
Our team asked what hints and tips you would give to anyone considering an apprenticeship in the Fire & Rescue sector. Erica had these wise words:
“If you are looking for an exciting career, enjoy working hard and learning lots of new skills, this route into the fire service is brilliant, as it allows you to learn about the service and what it does from all perspectives. I would encourage people from all walks of life to apply, as Cheshire Fire is incredibly inclusive and will invite anyone to feel like part of a team. If you are planning on applying for the apprenticeship, prepare as much as you can for the interview, get yourself physically fit for the selection tests and most of all enjoy the process!”
Good luck in all that you do Erica and thank you for being an important part of our Fire & Rescue services, championing apprenticeships as the workforce of tomorrow.
Linsey Daniels, Apprenticeship Coordinator at Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service commented on the programme of apprenticeships offered, providing excellent advice about how to get involved.
“Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service recruit Apprentices on to the Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship through our whole time Firefighter recruitment. We recruit both the Community Safety Advisor and Operational Firefighter Apprentices through our Firefighter and Community Safety Apprenticeship Programme.
“It is a pleasure to work with the Apprentices, supporting individuals in gaining underpinning knowledge, skills and behaviours in their specified apprenticeship. Due to Covid-19 the apprenticeship journey for most, has been massively affected. The roles that our Community Safety Apprentices were doing previously were changed to reflect restrictions, fulfilling vital supporting roles within the Prevention Department the Service and for the local communities.
We asked Linsey what key skills might be useful for anyone considering a role in the sector, adding:
“Good communication skills, a positive attitude and approach, commitment to development, effective teamwork, and personal resilience. This year personal resilience has been so important as Apprentices have had to adapt to changes in their working environment and with the community they serve, due to Covid-19.
“Seeing individuals grow is incredibly rewarding, over time during their Apprenticeship, through the experiences, training and development opportunities provided to become competent in their role of Firefighter and Community Safety Advisor and take on a career within the Fire Service. This year, due to the impact of Covid-19 on our Services and our community it has been a challenging for everyone, and it has been rewarding to see our Apprentices step up and support our communities most in need in these unprecedented times.
As someone who lives and breathes apprenticeships for the sector, we wanted to know Linsey’s best advice for someone considering the apprenticeship route:
“Be invested in your personal development, develop the key skills, which we deem important to our organisation, shown above.”
From everyone at SFJ Awards, thank you to Erica and Linsey for getting involved in the Meet the Apprentice Champions campaign, part of the National Apprenticeship week celebration. It’s vitally important to us, as the leading Apprentice End-Point Assessment Organisation for the Fire sector, to shine a light on the exciting careers possible through apprenticeships in Fire & Rescue. We are thrilled to share insights from those working hard to keep the public safe and grow the workforce of tomorrow.
Follow us for more National Apprenticeship week insights on Twitter @SFJAwards #NAW2021