Thursday 12 December saw the decade’s last graduating class of firefighter recruits from the National Training Centre. A graduation ceremony for recruits and their families was held at the NTC in Rotorua, marking the end of a 12-week training course that saw the firefighters undertake training in Urban Search & Rescue, Hose, Breathing Apparatus, Rural, Live Fire, Community Education, and Motor Vehicle Extraction.

The top recruit award went to Joel Kennedy, 27, from Christchurch. He’ll be joining the Christchurch City station with his first shift on 23 December.

Another new firefighter is 42-year-old Seton Pennell. The oldest recruit of this class, he originally applied to be a firefighter 12 years ago but didn’t get an offer at the time. After a career in conservation on the South Island, he decided to give it another crack and come December he’ll be stationed in his hometown of New Plymouth.

28-year-old Jamie McBride just finished with the NZ army and after 10 years stationed in Palmerston North wants to get back to the South Island, where he grew up. “I really wanted a job that had the same sort of teamwork and challenge, but with a better work-life balance and chance to engage with the community,” he said. Jamie will be stationed in Invercargill, closer to his hometown of Dunedin.

Another hometown recruit is Scott Kircaldie of Timaru. Before joining Fire and Emergency he was a rehab manager at ACC. With a wife and four kids at home, he wanted a role where he could help the community and spend more time with his young children.

As a kid, Ian Katoa, from Otara used to want to be a police officer. “But then my little brother decided he wanted to become one! I decided I’d become a firefighter instead so that the whole family could help our community in different ways.” A father of four, he works closely with his home community: “I help run a youth program back home in Otara. It’s important to me to give back to the community; Otara has a reputation, especially online, of being a bad place and it’s not like that at all,” he says. “It’s full of potential and promise – I want to help be the bridge between the youth in my community and Fire and Emergency.”

The class’s youngest recruit is Corrie Keedle at 22 years old. She will be stationed in her hometown of Palmerston North. Before entering training, studied exercise and sport science and worked as a personal trainer. “The teamwork was the best part of the training for me,” She said. “To complete the tasks you have to work together as a team. Many heads are better than one.”

Adam O’Connor also used to be in the army. After 10 years and two deployments overseas, he wanted to do something new. “I loved the team environment and the interesting work in the army – I wanted to stay in a role that let me work in a tight-knit crew with the opportunity of continual training and upskilling while staying closer to home.” Before reporting into his new station in Kawerau Adam plans on spending some time relaxing down the coast fishing and surfing.

Australian Robert Fitzpatrick, originally from the Sunshine Coast, married a Kiwi and has been living in Gisborne the last few years. “I knew some of the crew from the Gisborne station socially and through the gym since living here and after chatting with them I decided I wanted to join Fire and Emergency,” he said. “My first shift is actually Christmas Day so all of us will be having a Christmas lunch with our families at the station.”

This group of 23 graduates represents an age range of 22 to 42 and six different nationalities.

Other attendees at the graduation included representatives of the local iwi Te Arawa, Fire and Emergency’s newest board member Gwen Tepania-Palmer, Board Chair Hon Paul Swain, Deputy Chief Executive People Brendan Nally and NZ Police Inspector Ewan Dunsmuir.

Last modified: