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Top firies climb another rung

Saturday, 1st August, 2020

Clayton Spencer and Craig Burke have increased in rank to Leading Firefighters after completing their written and practical exams this year. PICTURE: Myles Burt Clayton Spencer and Craig Burke have increased in rank to Leading Firefighters after completing their written and practical exams this year. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Craig Burke and Clayton Spencer have ranked up to Leading Firefighters after a long haul of strenuous testing and practical exams.

Mr Burke received his promotion from Senior to Leading Firefighter in late March, with Mr Spencer receiving his promotion on July 21.

Over a two-year process, the pair underwent an official written exam with an external NSW Fire and Rescue official, completed six safety modules along with travelling to Wollongong to take part in an eight-day incident management practical examination.

Both passed with flying colours with Mr Burke receiving 80 per cent and Mr Spencer receiving 84 per cent overall, with the rank promotion requiring a strict 65 per cent minimum pass mark.

Mr Burke said he was glad to see the testing behind him.

“There was a pile of paperwork probably four inches thick, A4 bits of paper that you had to study back to front,” Mr Burke said.

“It’s a lot of work, you don’t realise until you start doing it how much you actually need to absorb and learn.

“Very stressful and glad to see it behind us.”

Both are over the moon in becoming Leading Firefighters, with Mr Burke and Mr Spencer saying it felt awesome to put their new positions to work.

“I remember my first shift, I was sitting at home the day before and thought ‘I’m running the whole of Broken Hill tomorrow, the whole fire district is mine tomorrow’,” Mr Burke said.

Mr Spencer said it was “overwhelming”.

“I couldn’t be more happy, obviously when Craig got through and then myself, it was just awesome,” Mr Spencer said.

“We both know who much hard work there is to do to get to that stage, and we’ve both put it in.”

The pair said their success wouldn’t have been achieved without the phenomenal comradery provided by fellow colleagues, who have voluntarily helped out by participating in safety scenarios for their exams.

Mr Burke said one Station Officer who had gone through the examination six years ago, was especially helpful in mentoring and helping the pair run them through scenarios on his days off.

“He’s devoted six months, probably more, nine months, of his time to come out and get us through basically,” Mr Burke said.

“We cannot thank that guy enough.”

Through the exam preparation, Mr Spencer said their colleagues have become increasingly interested in the process, already adopting the methods and terminology the pair were learning throughout their exam training to become Leading Firefighters.

The pair have said even the Station Officers have enjoyed the process, seeing their examination training as a great refresher for themselves.

“You can tell the difference out on the fire ground as well,” Mr Spencer said.

“When we send a radio message, they’re sending us reports back in the format as it should be.

“It’s benefitted the whole station.”

Both believe that through the process of them becoming Leading Firefighters, it has lit a fire of ambition in some of the younger firefighters to rank up with NSW Fire and Rescue.

“A few of them have jumped on board and you can just see it in them now that they’re made for it,” Mr Spencer said.

“As soon as their opportunity comes up, if they don’t jump at it they’re silly.

“I think we’ll be pushing them, too.”

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