How a pioneering Geordie is breaking the firefighter mould

Now this is what you call a change of scenery!

A change of career for a former cabin crew member has broken the mould of firefighting after she traded in the beautiful sights of the world for a new chapter in the fire service.

When the coronavirus pandemic grounded the travel industry, former cabin crew member Laura Maguire applied to the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS).

Laura, from Ryton, completed her 12-week training course last week and on Friday passed as a member of TWFRS.

She will be one of six female recruits in a cohort of 32 trainees that have graduated from an intensive programme that involved tackling fires, rescuing casualties from road traffic collisions and how to use a range of specialist equipment.

Now Laura, who passed her training two years after she initially applied to join the TWFRS, has called on other women to consider a career as a firefighter.

Laura said: “I’ve always had a passion for helping people and believe it or not there are a lot of transferable skills between this role in the fire service and my role as cabin crew.

“We learn how to deal with fires, first aid, how to cope with crisis, and trauma response, I mean it’s not exactly the same but I knew there were some things I could draw from.

“When I was looking for a new role I wanted something that could combine my love of fitness and helping the public and I got a bit tired of living out of a suitcase.

“I’d done it for 17 years and I wanted a job on the ground that I could be proud of and help the community.”

Laura has already made friends for life during her training and has praised the other women training alongside her.

She said the course has been physically demanding but she and her new friends are proud to be shedding the stereotype of what remains a male-dominated career.

Laura added: “We have a course WhatsApp group, it’s filled with study tips, fitness tips and just general chat, it’s helped us keep going when we’ve had wobbles.

“It’s nice to have the other women going through a similar thing on the course even though we are from so many different backgrounds.”

Lynsey McVay, the first female Assistant Chief Fire Officer at TWFRS has praised the hard work of the new recruits as well as calling on more women to join the service.

She said: “This recruitment drive is one of the biggest we’ve had in years and it’s great to see so many women in this cohort.

“I’m so proud of how hard our recruits work to make sure they are in tip-top form when they get on station and it should reassure our community that we are working hard to keep them safe.

“It is vitally important for us to represent the communities we serve. A lot of what we do is engagement with the public and we need people of all backgrounds in the organisation.

“We still need to work hard to increase the representation of minority communities in the fire service but this latest cohort shows we are making positive steps.

“We hope people like Laura can help inspire other women to consider a role as a firefighter. It is a mentally and physically tough training course but there is nothing here that a woman can’t do.

“A woman’s place is anywhere she wants it to be, and I encourage you to join me at TWFRS.”

Laura and her fellow trainees passed on December 17 after completing a number of written, oral and practical assessments.