The ‘Fire Cadets’ is a National youth engagement programme aimed at 13-18 year olds that aims to develop young person’s teamwork, leadership and inter-personal skills in a Fire and Rescue Service setting whilst working towards a nationally recognised qualification.
Most schemes across the country are led by volunteer instructors, join us as we follow a day in the life of one.
“It’s cold and raining sideways, I’ve had a rubbish day at work, there are chores to be done at home, I really want to just get back, make my dinner and get into bed…
I don’t have to be here…
I woke up late this morning and have been chasing my tail since. I finished work and rushed for the train but they were all full and it took twenty minutes longer to get onto one. I’ve sent a message in the group chat to let my fellow cadet instructors know I’m running late and I’m feeling really guilty. I stumble through the fire station doors, sweaty and five minutes late. I’m greeted by one of my fellow volunteers who is grinning ear to ear, they place a hot cup of tea into my hand, milk and one sugar just how I like it and I am ordered to catch my breath and chill out for a minute as “everything’s in hand here”.
Tonight we’ll be starting with roll call, we’ve delegated this task to our senior cadets to allow them to practice their time management and interpersonal skills, we’ll then have a half hour guest lecture from a fire investigator (who has also brought their fire dog with them!) it’s then a ten minute stand easy before an evening of drills on the drill yard.
All Walks of Life
I’ve had chance to change into my uniform and I’ve calmed down from my rushed commute. As I listen to our guest I look around the room… the best thing about the fire cadet programme is the diverse range of people it attracts. Amongst my fellow instructors are a couple of firefighters, a senior police officer, a child welfare officer, a barista, an IT systems expert, a mechanic and a nursery teacher.
There aren’t many bases we don’t have covered but the thing that I enjoy the most is the fact we all have our own strengths and weaknesses yet we all feel comfortable stepping out of our comfort zones and trying to develop. My friend the mechanic doesn’t often have to address a room of sixteen inner-city teenagers and maintain their attention but with our support they have started to do so every week and I must say they’ve become a natural at it!
But I wouldn’t be anywhere else
After a quick break we’re out onto the drill yard, this is where I’m in my element and feel I can share my experience of going through my initial firefighter training. I empathise with one cadet as they get frustrated trying to tie that one knot that always catches them out. I make my way over to offer my assistance when I see the penny drop, they turn themselves to face the other way and tie the knot effortlessly. I can see the look of satisfaction on their face and I recall having the same feeling when I finally mastered the very same knot at the start of my career. It’s little unspoken moments such as this that go unnoticed that makes giving a couple of hours of my week up well and truly worth it.
Going the extra mile…
The role of a volunteer fire cadet instructor is demanding but equally rewarding. Although you may not receive fiscal payment for your time, you are guaranteed a wealth of personal development and the chance to form some very strong friendships.