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My HFR Solutions Apprenticeship Story So Far… by Daniel Barker

When I finished college in 2012 I was seriously considering going to university. But last minute I had a change of heart and wanted to stay closer to home. I have always had one eye on joining the fire service but I never really knew how to go about it, until I heard about HFR Solutions:

“HFR Solutions CIC is a full service risk prevention and emergency response provider based in Hull. We deliver risk assessment, bespoke safety training, safety interventions and emergency response to established and emerging industry.”

The role they were advertising was a position at Tata Steel, Scunthorpe, as an apprentice fire fighter. Straight away this caught my eye - the opportunity at 19 years of age to follow in the footsteps of my Uncle, a whole-time Watch Manager at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service.

The first step on my firefighter journey was an application form, and who better to give me advice than my Uncle. Once I had submitted this I waited anxiously for a response.

Good news, I got through to the next stage! This was to be a one day initial test that HFR solutions had set up at Immingham West. The day included:

  • A bleep test
  • Run out six lengths of hose in eight minutes
  • A rat run

In the bleep test you had to get to level 8.7. Running out six lengths of hose and rolling them back up in eight minutes was going to be the biggest challenge for me but I went to Winterton station for a couple of nights before the test and practised it. The rat run consisted of going through small and confined spaces whilst staying on your lay while you were blindfolded.

All successfully completed!!

Next was the National Firefighter Selection Test (NFST). This is a series of challenges that every candidate has to go through and pass if they want to be put on the Fire Service Recruit Course. The challenges are set throughout one day and they include both physical challenges and written maths and English tests.

This day was very challenging but a couple of days later I got a phone call saying I had passed the NFST and HFR Solutions had offered me an interview. I was so proud of myself for getting this far but I knew there was plenty more work left to do.

The day of the interview came around really quick. I was nervous but I had confidence in myself to go and deliver and show the interview panel what I could bring to HFR Solutions. The interview flew by and I was really happy with how it went. The very same evening I got a phone call, I had been offered a job at HFR Solutions as an apprentice firefighter, and I couldn’t believe it, I was in!

The first couple of months of my Apprenticeship was the firefighter recruit course. This ran from September to early December and consisted of six modules:

  • Module A – Fire Ground Skills (10 days)
  • Module B – Working at Height (2 days)
  • Module C – Breathing Apparatus (12 days)
  • Module D – Water Awareness & Hazardous Materials (2 days)
  • Module E – Initial Emergency Care & Trauma Care (5 days)
  • Module F – Road Traffic Collisions (3 days)
  • Finally the pass out parade!

In between these modules we spent our days at the fire station at Tata Steel, meeting the watches and learning a bit about the site.

I was put onto White Watch and I couldn’t have been made to feel any more welcome and at home straight away. This welcoming atmosphere was great because walking into a building not knowing anyone, especially at such a young age, can be very daunting. The watch took me for visits around the whole site and showed me what they do on a daily basis. It was all so interesting for me and I just couldn’t wait to get onto watch full time. The watch also assisted me in between my modules, giving me a heads up and preparing me for the next part of the course.

Another huge bonus to getting this job was that I got to join my local fire station, Winterton, as a retained firefighter. This is a huge honour for me, doing something to help my community, being on call and ready to respond when necessary on my days off from HFR Solutions.

I passed out from my firefighter recruit course on 18 December 2013. This was the proudest day of my life. I had just been put through the best and worst experience of my life, being pushed to breaking point, meeting friends for life and to top it off I got the prestigious silver axe for ‘Best Overall Firefighter Recruit’. My greatest achievement so far.

From New Year 2014 I started on watch full-time with White Watch. This was incredible, only 19 years old a whole-time firefighter.

I just wanted to learn all the time and improve myself. Yes I had passed the course and I was a fully qualified firefighter but I knew there was so much more to learn and I needed to improve my current skills.

Now, 18-months on, HFR Solutions has progressed so much and we are doing so much more for the Tata Steel community.

We deliver a variety of different courses to TATA site personnel, including:

  • Working at Height
  • Breathing Apparatus
  • Fire Awareness
  • Fire Watcher
  • Fire Warden
  • Heart Start

I have now got the experience and confidence to deliver these courses myself which is a big step for me as I wasn’t always confident delivering to groups of people.

We go around the TATA site delivering fire risk assessments. We put together risk assessments for buildings, working at height and confined spaces, to name just a few.

We test dry risers and hydrants annually and each watch has specific plants that they check the BA sets of monthly.

HFR Solutions has also taken over fire extinguisher maintenance for TATA Steel, so some people off each watch can service fire extinguishers. I have this course coming up and I can’t wait to get on it and add another string to my bow.

I am now a fully qualified BA servicer. I have been put through a 3-day course courtesy of HFR Solutions so now I can inspect and service BA sets that come in from the plant.

Winterton station sent me on a 2-day water responder course which means I am now at a higher level of water responder and can now enter the water for rescues.

This is all while crewing a fire appliance and an ambulance 24/7 on a 2 day/2 night shift rota. When I first joined I assisted on the ambulance regularly learning and gaining experience, 18-months on I am crewing the ambulance myself, driving to incidents, treating casualties, taking them for medicals and drugs and alcohol testing. This shows how far I have come already.

I am really proud of what I have done in the past two years, I have learnt so much and come so far, this is a great start to my career in the fire service and it’s only the beginning…

Daniel Barker 102/4957

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