Ask the apprentice - Erica Inglis
Erica Inglis talks about being a Firefighter and Community Safety Apprentice with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and provides some good advice to anyone thinking of applying for the role in the future.
Which apprenticeship programme are you doing?
I am a Firefighter and Community Safety Apprentice. In December 2020 I completed the Community Safety Advisor part of the Apprenticeship, with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Cheshire College South and West. This allowed me to gain knowledge skills and behaviours in fire prevention and community work. In January 2021 I then started the second part which is as an Operational Firefighter Apprentice.
How did you get to become an apprentice on this programme?
I went to university to study illustration but after graduating I struggled to find a job within the arts and I wasn’t sure which career path to take so I had multiple part-time jobs. I learnt about this apprenticeship scheme through someone I worked with and decided to apply. I went through the recruitment process and luckily received a place.
What is it like being an apprentice working for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service?
I feel very fortunate to work for such an inclusive and supportive organisation. I have really enjoyed working in different departments of the Service and each area has had an inviting work environment.
What activities have you been doing in your off-the-job learning?
During my Community Safety Advisor 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 attended character analysis workshops as well as attending Cheshire College South and West to learn presentation skills, team building, customer services and safeguarding.
What has been the hardest part?
During my apprenticeship 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 were supposed to go on a trip to Nepal, to help build classrooms for children who need access to educational facilities. These plans were all put on hold due to the virus and our normal working week changed dramatically. I worked from home for the majority of last year 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 think that I was able to gain more resilience and my work felt incredibly worthwhile.
What has been the best part of your apprenticeship so far?
The best part of the apprenticeship has been working with all my fellow apprentices and feeling like part of a team. We have all become good friends and have supported each other throughout the Community Safety Apprenticeship. I also loved the variety of the Community Safety Apprenticeship and feel that it kept me engaged throughout the 15 months. Experiencing different departments has given me knowledge of the service as a whole and the importance of all the different work that the service does.
Working for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has made me feel really proud. I think that my job is very worth-while and I am making a difference and helping people in the community.
What do you hope to do next?
I am currently undertaking a 16 week Operational Firefighter recruits course, which I hope to pass and become a development Firefighter. On successful completion, 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.
What tips do you have for people who want to do the same apprenticeship as you?
If you are looking for an exciting career, enjoy working hard and learning lots of new skills, I would encourage you to apply. I think that 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 all people from all walks of life to apply, as Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is incredibly inclusive and will invite anyone to feel like part of a team.
If you are planning on applying for the apprenticeship, I’d advise to prepare as much as you can for the interview, get yourself physically fit for the selection tests and most of all enjoy the process!
Last updated: Friday 05 February 2021