Firefighter recruits from Romania and Slovakia have joined Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Martin Tomanek and Bogdan Ciornei are among the latest intake of 23 on call firefighters to pass out at a Celebration of Success event at Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury, on Monday night. (November 9th)
They include four women firefighters – the highest number to join at the same time to bring the total to 20 across Shropshire.
Group Commander Mark Donnelly said the annual event was held to welcome the new recruits and to recognise their dedication and commitment to serve the people of Shropshire.
They had worked “extremely hard” to pass the entry tests, he said.
He also praised families for their support along with employers whose staff had to leave work at a moment’s notice to answer 999 calls across the county.
Martin Tomanek (33) came to Shropshire 13 years ago from Slovakia to work as a volunteer at the outdoor activity Pioneer Centre in Cleobury Mortimer where he is now a maintenance engineer. Speaking no English, he learned the language, went to university and later married his Slovakian girlfriend Tanya and the couple have a 17 month old daughter Lorelei.
He had wanted to become a firefighter since his parents were badly injured in a car crash in Poland five years ago.
“I decided then that I wanted to be a firefighter,” said Martin, who is based at Cleobury Mortimer fire station.
Bogdan Ciornei (31) was a firefighter before leaving for the UK just over two years ago to be with his wife and son. Speaking little English, life had been “very hard” and he admitted being almost in tears every time he saw a fire engine which reminded him of the life he had left behind.
But he gained a job as a scrap co-ordinator for Denso Manufacturing UK in Telford and joined the Shropshire brigade in June and is based at Tweedale fire station in Telford as an on call firefighter. He won the top student award for his course.
“I was a firefighter and crew manager in Romania for more than eight years. Firefighting is my second love. I hope one day I can be a wholetime firefighter.”
Firefighters and back room staff from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have made a number of trips to Romania over the past few years to deliver free fire engines and much needed equipment and help to train Romanian firefighters.
The other recruits are from all walks of life including a music teacher from Minsterley, a Clun barmaid, Market Drayton prison officer, trainee silversmith from Oswestry, a Snowden marathon winner who works as a sales manager in Bridgnorth and a former Cluedo champion from Newport.
Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority chairman Stuart West thanked employers’ Gary Harmer, (employer of Daniel Williams); Tony and Jenny Jones, (Kathryn Frost); and Tim Stone (Martin Tomanek and John Sheffield) for their support.
Special achievement awards went to John Sheffield, Joseph Smallman and Bogdan Ciornei (top students) and Michelle Townsend, James Barrett and Steve Minton (Instructors’ Award).
If you are interested in becoming an “on call” firefighter visit www.shropshirefire.gov.uk or call the brigade on 01743 260200.