THE Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has celebrated its final graduation ceremony at its Learning and Development Centre in South Belfast.

36 firefighters qualified in the last graduation ceremony at the Boucher Road centre before NIFRS opens the final phase of its new cutting-edge training facility in Cookstown later this year.

Joshua Burns, James Quinn, Christopher Burns, Martin McAllister, Caoimhín McNeill, Michael Neilands, Nigel Watt and Owen Pelan were amongst those who graduated from NIFRS on Friday, February 2.

Firefighter Nigel Watt was awarded Breathing Apparatus Trainee at the ceremony.

The training equipped them to develop specialist knowledge and acquire a wide range of practical skills, including tactical firefighting, using breathing apparatus and responding to road traffic collisions and other rescues. 

NIFRS Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, Aidan Jennings, said: “This is a hugely momentous day for our 36 trainees as they graduate as wholetime firefighters and for NIFRS hosting its final graduation ceremony at its Learning and Development Centre, Boucher.

“We are extremely proud to lead the development of our new Learning and Development College at Cookstown. The College will revolutionise how NIFRS trains and develops its people. The delivery of more realistic and repeatable operational rescue scenarios to assist our firefighters will enhance the safety of our people throughout Northern Ireland and enhance the safety of our community.

“Our graduates are enthused to be part of this journey with us as they start the next chapter of their careers as wholetime firefighters.

“They performed exceptionally well in a challenging recruitment process and in completing our demanding Trainee Firefighting Course. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, and to the commitment of our Training team, they will now begin serving our community. I wish them every success in what is a fulfilling, rewarding and meaningful career.”

Jay Colville, Chairperson of NIFRS, added: “On behalf of the NIFRS Board, I would like to congratulate each of the new wholetime firefighters graduating today. It is an honour to witness so many passionate firefighters who are devoted to keeping our community safe.

“Today’s graduation ceremony is an important milestone and as a service we continue to invest in our people. Our graduates will continue their training and development throughout their careers, both on station and in our new Learning and Development College at Cookstown. The training hub is a testament to our unwavering commitment to ensure the safety of our community, lifelong learning and delivering an effective Fire and Rescue Service.

“I wish all of today’s 36 graduates success and happiness in their careers in NIFRS.