Mother of two Katrina Hall has swapped her Navy uniform of 22 years for the more fire resistant kit of a career firefighter.
The 41-year-old, who lives at Whangārei Heads, was one of 21 firefighter recruits who graduated from the National Training Centre in Rotorua on Thursday.
During the graduation ceremony for recruits and their families the firefighters were presented with their new yellow operational helmets to replace their green trainee helmets.
The firefighters also performed a number of exercises involving different firefighting scenarios, displaying skills they have learned at the course over the past three months.
Hall takes up her fulltime role at the Whangārei Station on October 3.
She joins two other female firefighters at the Whangārei station - Zia Pikethley and Ady Mckenzie.
In fact it was Mckenzie who encouraged Hall to take up a career with Fire and Emergency NZ after meeting at a local school their children attended about a year ago.
"She really encouraged me and supported me through the process," Hall said.
Her application was accepted and training began on July 1. Hall was the oldest on the course.
"Training was challenging because it was learning all new skills. It was great though and a really professional environment," Hall said.
Skills from the Navy that crossed over to becoming a career firefighter included resilience, working as a team and not being afraid of hard work.
The former Whangārei Girls High School student joined the Navy where, over 22 years, she worked as a marine technician, military police officer and more recently in a role for recruiting, leadership and training. She sailed to places in New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia.
Hall said she was looking forward to a hands-on job in the Fire Service.
"It's only possible because of my family support and encouragement."
Fire and Emergency NZ area commander Brad Mosby said the men at the station had been very supportive of the new female firefighters.
"They have assisted them with their preparation to go on their courses, and have created a respectful and inclusive environment on station. I'm very proud of the whole Northland team in creating this environment, in fact we are leading the way in this space I believe," Mosby said.
The latest group of firefighting graduates represented an increasingly diverse range of people who wanted to become career firefighters.
They ranged in age from 20 years old to 41, including four women, three of Māori descent, and six people from countries other than New Zealand. More and more women are choosing firefighting as a career option.
The 21 firefighter graduates will be deployed to the following Fire and Emergency areas: Whangārei-Kaipara 1, Auckland City 2, Counties-Manukau 1, Waikato 1, Bay of Plenty Coast 1, Central Lakes 1, Taranaki 1, Tairawhiti 2, Wellington 5, Christchurch Metro 3, East Otago 2, and Southland 1.
For more information on the firefighter recruitment process and the areas of the country where there are vacancies, go to https://fireandemergency.nz/work-for-us/the-recruitment-process/