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Congratulations to Katie Wilgar and Dean McGlade (pictured above), who have become the latest permanent new additions to George Best Belfast City Airport’s firefighting team.

The two successfully completed the airport’s ‘High Flyers Apprenticeship’ programme to become members of the Airport Fire Service.

Wilgar is from East Belfast and McGlade, from Carrickfergus, beat off stiff competiton from across Northern Ireland 

Wilgar said: “It is a dream come true to work with the Fire Service at Belfast City Airport. Each day brings a chance to do something different and the sense of comradery amongst the team is an added bonus.

“I originally started studying for a degree in History at Ulster University but when the opportunity with Belfast City Airport came up, I knew I had to apply – I have always admired firefighters and, due to a keen interest in aviation, have been fascinated with the role they play in keeping the airport and its passengers safe.

“As an East Belfast native, the airport has always played a major part in my community and so it is an honour to work in such an important role with a dedicated and welcoming team.”

The apprentices faced a range of training before passing through to become fully fledged firefighters, including a written assessment, fitness test, and various courses such as the Chemistry of Fire.

As the first responders at the airport, the firefighting team must also have a good knowledge of first aid along with showing competence in confined spaces, water rescue, boat handling and working at heights. 

Other required courses include advanced casualty care, advance fire appliance driving, and wearing of breathing apparatus.

Delighted with his appointment, McGlade commented: “I wanted to be a firefighter since I was young so being recognised by Belfast City Airport and offered a permanent place is a fantasy fulfilled.

“I joined the NIFRS Retained fire service after leaving school at age 17, while also working in Toys R Us, and knew the industry was suited for me – the chance to do something practical that is also worthwhile and helps people doesn’t come around often!

“I am extremely grateful to the crew for their ongoing support and motivation, which has definitely helped me reach where I am today. I feel like a valued member of the team and am excited to see where my career takes me.”

Chief fire officer at Belfast City Airport, Seamus MacMahon, was responsible for overseeing the training of the apprentices.

He said: “Belfast City Airport is passionate about supporting the local community, and the High Flyers Apprenticeship provides young people with a variety of transferrable and job-specific skills, helping them realise their potential and giving them the tools to succeed in the future.

“Both Katie and Dean have excelled during training, demonstrating the commitment and resilience needed to succeed in the emergency services. We are very proud to have them on the team and look forward to watching them grow throughout their careers.”


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