Ask the apprentice - Steve Paul
We asked Steve Paul, Firefighter and Community Safety Apprentice, what he thought of the apprenticeship he is on and how he is finding the role of studying and working. Here’s what he said:
Which apprenticeship are you doing?
In December 2020 I completed a Community Safety Advisor part of the Apprenticeship, and have now moved on to the next part which is the Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship.
How did you get to be an apprentice with CFRS?
Prior to starting this apprenticeship programme, I worked as an HGV driver doing general haulage for a small firm based in Shropshire. I knew that I eventually wanted to work in public service and serve my community, so when the opportunity arose to apply for this programme in nearby Cheshire I filled out the application form as soon as possible.
The selection process was lengthy and rigorous, assessing numerous skills and behaviours including teamwork, planning, presentation skills and previous experiences. I was fortunate to be one of the 12 candidates offered a position.
How are you finding being an apprentice and working for an emergency service?
As part of the apprenticeship I worked within the prevention department and performed various roles that aim to prevent fires, accidents and improve the wellbeing of people in Cheshire.
I gained a vast amount of experience performing home safety and wellness visits, assisting as leaders with the Cheshire Fire Cadets, taking part in safety impact days and campaigns (such as road safety and around Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night) and delivering safety programmes to primary and secondary school children at schools and at Safety Central, the Service’s interactive life-skills centre based at Lymm.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is a fantastic organisation to work for, the programme has been comprehensive and has afforded me a great many opportunities to learn and develop my understanding of community safety and participates in all aspects of the Service and how it works to help people of all ages stay safe from harm.
What have you been doing in your ‘off-the-job’ learning side of the apprenticeship?
Alongside the various roles within the prevention department, I have taken part in other training related to community safety, this included; safeguarding, behavioural change techniques, first aid, equality, diversity and inclusion, conflict management, fire science and fire setting intervention techniques. In addition, I have gained an understanding of aspects of the wider Service’s roles and responsibilities with the Operational Training Group (who deliver training to operational firefighters) and the protection department (which enforces fire safety regulations in non-domestic properties).
What has been the hardest part of your apprenticeship?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic much of the Service’s normal community safety work was either suspended, scaled back or modified to be Covid safe. As a result, the prevention department, including the apprentices, took on numerous new roles to help support the Service and community. This included; carrying out wellness checks on vulnerable individuals who were shielding, delivering supplies to local foodbanks, fitting facemasks for North West Ambulance Service staff, assisting the NHS carry out swab tests on patients going into hospital for pre-planned procedures, making regular deliveries of PPE and cleaning supplies to the fire stations and marshalling at Covid-19 vaccination sites.
This was a challenge, but everyone from across the Service stepped up to provide these essential roles during this difficult time.
What has been the best part?
The best part has been working with friendly, professional people who are dedicated to providing the best service possible to keep the community safe and well. In addition, they are always willing to help and support each other and provide advice and guidance where needed.
What do you hope to do next?
After completing the Community Safety Apprenticeship, I have moved on to the Firefighter Apprenticeship that will qualify me as an operational firefighter. The knowledge, skills and behaviours I have developed will be invaluable going into this new role.
What tips do you have for people who want to do the same apprenticeship as you?
Community Safety is a collaborative effort that requires teamwork, empathy, a commitment to doing the best job possible and enthusiasm. If you have any interest in working with your community, public safety, or public service in general, then definitely consider this apprenticeship and the fantastic opportunity it provides to develop these skills.
Last updated: Friday 05 February 2021