In 2017, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service joined forces with New College Durham to offer a business fire safety and firefighter apprenticeships. The programme aims to prepare apprentices to be firefighters. Connor, from Newton Hall, Durham, was part of the first cohort of apprentices to join the scheme.

Connor comments: "I am so happy and excited to now be a fully qualified firefighter. To find out that my grades placed me in the top 2% of apprentices in the country was such a proud moment that was the icing on the cake. The apprenticeship programme with the fire service and the college has been hard work but also really enjoyable. I would encourage anybody interested in a career as a firefighter to pursue it!"

Alongside Connor, the full first cohort finished this week, with everybody who started on the programme back in 2017 now working as firefighters in different units across Durham and Darlington.

Since it began in 2017, the scheme has gone from strength to strength. Last week, the service was able to put COVID safety measures in place so the fourth set of apprentice firefighters could begin their fire service journey.

In November 2020, the scheme was the proud winner of two awards: The Recruitment Excellence award at the North East Regional Apprenticeship Awards and a National Apprenticeship Award for Recruitment Excellence.



Chief Fire Officer Stuart Errington said:

"We are honoured to work once again with New College Durham to run our award-winning apprenticeship scheme, which we introduced in 2017.

"The scheme has been hugely successful and has won many awards over the years. The most recent was on the 2nd of November 2020, which was Recruitment Excellence at the North East Regional Apprenticeship Awards, and then on the 25th - we then went on to be recognised, winning the Recruitment Excellence Award, at the National Apprenticeship Awards.

"A big thank you must go out to New College Durham for their continued support each and every year to help us run this amazing scheme."

Katherine Metcalfe, Head of People and Organisational Development from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service commented:

"We are proud we can offer excellent training and development opportunities for our current workforce and those joining our service through accredited programmes.

"Being the first Fire and Rescue Service in the country to offer Firefighter apprenticeships and to see our programme be successful makes us feel extremely proud. As we embark onto our 4th cohort our commitment to our apprenticeship programme couldn't be higher."

Sharon Bennet, Director of Apprenticeships at New College Durham, said:

"We are thrilled at the success of the first cohort of apprentices. Over the last 5 years we have developed a strong partnership supporting the service in the design and delivery of apprenticeships to fit the needs of their business. We look forward to building on the partnership moving forward."

To find out more about apprenticeships at New College Durham go to Further details of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service can be found at