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Ex-forces Craig returns North to Teesside to build career in fire team
A former RAF recruit has returned to the North East – and urged other ex-service personnel to seriously consider a career on Teesside.
Craig Hammond, 30, spent six years at RAF Waddington, in Lincolnshire. When he was looking for a move, it was a chance spot by his partner which opened the door to him joining the fire team at Teesside Airport in June 2022.
Originally from Wheatley Hill, County Durham, but now living in Darlington, Craig had no firefighting experience before joining the team.
But what he lacked in firefighting knowhow, he more than made up for in his logistical expertise gained through his time in the RAF.
Craig said: “My partner actually saw the job advert – it said: “experienced preferred”. I applied on a whim and thought it sounded like something I’d like.
“It was my type of work – on my feet and out of the office. The ball just kept rolling – even when I thought it was going to stop.”
After six years of travelling down to south, Craig now has a job closer to home – and has relished the new challenge.
He added: “I was on the up in the logistics world. I applied for management and supervisory jobs – I got a couple of interviews and a couple of offers.
“I was still in the military when I got the call to do my fitness assessment here. When I got the job offer, I approached and requested an earlier leave date, and it was granted.”
Craig embarked on a five-week training course at the International Fire Training Centre, based on the North Side of Teesside Airport.
He explained how it wasn’t straightforward but he quickly gelled with the airport’s tight knit team after completing the tests.
“It was actually really enjoyable,” he added.
“The physical side I’m fine with, but academically, I’ve always struggled. Physically and mentally, it was demanding but very fun.
“My knowledge of aircraft and airfields is second nature to me. It’s also a demanding job in other ways. It has its tough days and its more mellow days.
“Not many sections would do their own job and then help with others. You get to know new people – you can be training, and getting hot and bothered, and then helping in the terminal.”
Craig said the fire team had felt like a family from day one – and a job closer to his own family now sees him value his weekend time more.
“It used to be five days a week away from home – now every day I’m at home, no matter the hours I’m working,” he added.
“It’s been quite a nice transition – I was quite prepared to go from military life into just a factory, or an office but this was nice. There are people here who are ex-military, like my Watch Manager and my Crew Manager, and they really understand that transition.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Craig is another great example of someone who has returned home to build a fantastic career.
“We’re extremely proud of the number of ex-forces personnel we employ at the Airport – and we’re always keen to tap into the unrivalled experience they all have.
“Our airport fire team is made up of the cream of the crop – and they show day-in-day-out how our entire airport team pulls together.
“We’ve hosted the world-renowned International Fire Training Centre for more than 40 years, and we will for years to come, so we’re perfectly placed to bring on the top fire crews of tomorrow.
“We’re attracting more holiday flights, significant interest through our £200million Southside Business Park, and our Cargo Facility is breaking new ground. We’re now UK and Irish’s Airport of the year and our future is bright. Craig and the fire team are all part of the huge push to make Teesside Airport a success.”