Inspiring Apprentices: Georgina Homer & Marie Shelley

Marie Shelley and Georgina Homer have recently been appointed to the Wolverhampton Homes Fire Safety Team and are completing the Level 4 Fire Safety Inspector apprenticeship with Xact Consultancy and Training to become fully qualified and competent in their roles.

In the interviews below, they talk about how their previous experience of working within the housing sector has helped them to understand their new roles in the fire safety team. 

They also reflect on how the apprenticeship scheme supports them to develop their skills and knowledge both in the classroom and in the workplace.

Georgina and Marie Discussing their course with their specialist tutor and apprenticeship mentor from Xact, Dave Moxon.


Marie Shelley

What’s your background and how did you get into the Fire Safety Inspection team?

"I have nearly 16 years of experience within customer service and the repairs and maintenance team for social housing provider, Wolverhampton Homes. The opportunity arose to apply for our newly formed Fire Safety positions. It was perfect timing for a career shift, to carry forward my experience whilst be able to embrace something completely new in fire safety within a social housing setting."

What drew you to the Fire Safety Inspector role?

"The opportunity to study and gain a recognised qualification to become a specialist in the subject of fire safety was an attractive proposition. As I have a keen interest and knowledge in building maintenance, diagnosing repairs and construction materials, I wanted to learn something new and branch off in a different direction. It was the perfect opportunity to bring my knowledge of our housing stock, repairs processes and procedures to combine it with the newly learned Fire Safety skills that the Fire Safety role created. The two areas are very closely interlinked which appealed to me, I really liked the idea of still being able to utilise the skills I have gained whilst being able to learn and develop in the new area of expertise in fire safety. Following the new legislation that has been introduced post Grenfell, it has been the right time for me to change my career path and play a role in providing safer homes combined with a more inclusive environment for people to live."

Can you tell me more about the apprenticeship?

"It takes two years to complete the full Level 4 Fire Safety Inspector accreditation. It is broken down into manageable-sized modules that are set out on a calendar timetable. Within those modules, we have taught sessions by experienced tutors varying from a couple of days up to two weeks in length. Some modules have pre-coursework books, so you can get a feel of the module content, which allows you to navigate research documents and build a base layer of knowledge before the session commences. Once you have attended the taught sessions, we complete the post workbooks. We have a course mentor assigned to us, who can provide support with our distance learning and support any problems we encounter, we have reviews to ensure we are on track and help guide us on our journey. As it’s an apprenticeship you can put into practice a lot of what you learn in your daily tasks immediately. It provides a great awareness; it makes you start to view buildings in a very different way! It is a little bit life-altering. On the job I am mentored by Fire Safety Officers who I shadow, for FRA’s, post-fire assessments and visits to our residents."

Have you faced any challenges so far on your apprenticeship journey?

"Not so much a challenge, just adapting to a new way of working life and learning. Navigating, familiarising, understanding and cross-referencing fire safety guidance, legislation, fire safety law and government documents can be incredibly overwhelming to start with. But as with anything, the more you learn and progress, and can apply the information, it does get easier. My philosophy is challenges are just opportunities in disguise. When you have the mindset and drive to achieve and succeed in something, a positive attitude and outlook will always drive you forward overcoming any perceived obstacle. It’s how we respond to challenges that matter."

Have there been any highlights so far that you’d like to share?

"I really enjoy the face-to-face taught sessions with tutors, this can be done online but, for me, I really thrive in a classroom environment and feel I get far more out of the face-to-face sessions. I also encounter a wide variety of people who attend on the courses. You meet and get to spend time with people from many varying backgrounds and levels of experience. It adds another layer to your learning experience and opens a diverse network of people who are in different stages of their careers and learning experiences." 

What does a day in the life of a Fire Safety Inspector look like?

"Daily life can be incredibly assorted, as a fire safety advisor, until we qualify, our roles are slightly different to a fire inspector. At times it is quite structured in terms of carrying out weekly, monthly or annual tasks, such as sprinkler checks and assisting and shadowing with FRA’s across our high, medium and low-rise flatted blocks. However, it can also be quite responsive in varying volumes. We can have fire-damaged properties, issues with tenant’s fire loading in communal areas, assisting colleagues in tenancies to provide safety advice and assess potential issues as well as tenant participation and engagement providing an active presence and increasing fire safety awareness. We also work very closely with partner regulatory bodies that utilise our flatted estates to perform simulated training exercises and mock-up scenarios for firefighting and rescue training. There is plenty to keep us busy with over 21,000 homes in our stock, with a combination of high, medium and low-rise flatted blocks. Our work is continuous and imperative in keeping our tenants safe."

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to do an apprenticeship?

"It’s an incredibly good way to learn and very worthwhile, having the ability to actively put into practice what you learn into a real-life environment immediately is very rewarding. Having the combination of practical experience and being tutored in a classroom environment provides a great learning experience. Having colleagues who mentor us closely brings a broad spectrum of experience and skills to our working environment, it reinforces our learning in a real-life, real-time way. Having previously studied at degree level, this has been a different learning approach but equally as enjoyable and informative."


Georgina Homer

What’s your background and how did you get into the Fire Safety Inspection team?

"I have studied, taught, volunteered or been an employee within the not-for-profit sector. One of my previous roles was as a community development officer, supporting tenants and resident associations with the engagement of the proposed Building Safety Act. As a result of this role, I became interested in understanding more about building and fire safety so when I saw this role I applied and here I am."

Can you tell me more about the apprenticeship?

"My apprenticeship involves being mentored by a trained fire safety officer on a day-to-day basis within Wolverhampton Homes. This involves shadowing fire risk assessments and co-visiting fire-related enquiries. I also have weekly study days to support my structured learning, which takes place periodically at Yarnfield."

Have you faced any challenges so far on your apprenticeship journey?

"Not so much a challenge but starting the learning journey again and making a career change is something new. It’s an experience I’m enjoying and I’m finding many others share the same feeling."

Have there been any highlights so far that you’d like to share?

"Through in-person learning, I have had a chance to meet other learners across the country at different stages of their learning and work with different stakeholders within the industry (fire service, other housing providers etc). It’s been interesting to gain insights from their experiences."

What does a day in the life of a Fire Safety Inspector look like?

"As a fire safety advisor within the housing sector, I do co-visits with a fire safety inspector and shadow fire risk assessments. Wolverhampton Homes has a good working relationship with West Midlands Fire Service, assisting with Site Specific Risk Investigation and Audits, and joint training opportunities. The team will also conduct Person Centred Fire Risk Assessments, for vulnerable tenants and residents, and conduct Post Fire Investigation on their housing stock."

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to do an apprenticeship?

"I have found doing an apprenticeship a good way of starting a new career, and I’m enjoying the experience. If anyone else has the opportunity, I’d suggest trying it out and seeing if it works for you."


We look forward to highlighting more of our amazing apprentices in the future and celebrating their success! If you would like to join apprentices like Marie and Georgina on their apprenticeship journey, visit our apprenticeship overview for more information. 

0 Comment(s)

Be the first to comment on this blog!

Leave a Comment

Simple BBcode supported, more info here.

Homepage Link / Website: (Optional):

Please enter the text shown on the image. (Proof that you're not a robot)
Please type in the value of this image
Refresh Image

(Please note that your comment may first be submitted for approval before being added to this page)