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Tyrone Gabbadon (left) receives instruction on breathing apparatus from Station Manager Mick O’Brien during his training.

Tyrone Gabbadon (left) receives instruction on breathing apparatus from Station Manager Mick O’Brien during his training.

A West Wickham man has realised his career ambition in training and qualifying as a Firefighter with the elite Rescue & Firefighting Service (R&FFS) at London Biggin Hill Airport.

But it has not been an easy ride for 29-year old Tyrone Gabbadon, whose first attempt at joining the airport fire service in 2007 was rejected. So he applied to join the airport team as a Security Officer and was accepted.  He successfully completed  the comprehensive service training scheme for airport security and continued for eight years in the role while doing all the background work needed  to gain acceptance for his ‘first choice’ job in the Fire Service.

Fast forward to the spring of 2014, by which time Tyrone was very well known as an airport staff member.  He decided to submit another application to join the R&FFS and following success in his entrance exams, he was accepted as a recruit and allocated to a training course that would lead eventually to qualification.

A reasonably strong physique is essential for a professional firefighter and maintaining fitness is a key requirement.  The extensive training syllabus starts with a combination of theoretical and practical subjects covering core subjects such as breathing apparatus, aircraft construction, aviation fuels, firefighting medias, hose-running and branch handling.

After acquiring the basic skills, Tyrone was sent to the International Fire Training Centre based at Teesside Airport, Durham for a 6-week residential course.  Here he was able to develop his skills and join large scale exercises that simulate the rescue of casualties from an aircraft, usually in thick smoke, heat and in confined spaces.

Firefighting personnel also have other duties that relate to services on the ramp at the Terminal as visiting aircraft come and go. These include aircraft marshalling, connecting ground power, safety for engine start-ups and airframe de-icing during winter cold spells.  Also included are runway inspections for debris and contamination assessments.  All these actions carry essential training requirements and regular updating procedures.

Early in the New Year, Tyrone completed all his fire service training and was awarded his Firefighter certificate by the Senior Airport Fire Officer, Andy Mellers.

“Tyrone has proved his ability in a convincing way throughout the lengthy training course and he has now been welcomed as a fully-fledged member of Blue Watch” says Andy.

“Training never stops in the fire service.  Tyrone and all our team participate regularly in the comprehensive on-station training programmes designed to maintain and hone their skills” added Andy.

For Tyrone, this was the culmination of his boyhood dream.

“I feel honoured and privileged to be a part of the airport’s Rescue & Firefighting Service.   Every day is different here. Having a job involved so close to the front line of a busy international airport carries its own special personal rewards” says Tyrone

At home in West Wickham, Tyrone has a young family.  He keeps up his fitness at his local gym and is a keen supporter of Arsenal.

Issued by Biggin Hill Airport Ltd –

Media contact is Simon Ames – Head of Communications – M:  07785 745857