Kid's getting all fired up
YEAR 10 student Jason Balderi joined the Rural Fire Service cadet program at Kadina High School in Lismore for a ‘bit of fun’, but took to theuniform like a duck to water.
“I haven’t done anything like this before,” he said yesterday.
“We had a bushfire near us when we lived at Wardell so I have thought about being a firefighter before.”
Jason joined 15 of his classmates on the first day of a 10-week program designed to teach students the basics of firefighting and the benefits of community service.
In conjunction with the Education Department, the program aims to introduce students to the RFS and encourages them to join a brigade or other community service.
Over the 10-week course, which counts towards their studies, students will learn a range of skills from firefighting techniques, equipment usage and maintenance, and first-aid through practical and theoretical classes.
Northern Rivers RFS manager, Superintendent Michael Brett, was on hand to welcome the students to the inaugural program in the Lismore region yesterday.
“This program develops practical life and leadership skills through teamwork, and introduces the students to the RFS, which might get theminto a volunteer brigade or a career with the service,” he said.
“We’re also into having a laugh and enjoying ourselves.”
RFS Community Safety Officer Bronwyn Waters then kicked off the program promising drills, games and challenges to get students thinking and make decisions – or as Captain John Hilderbrand put it: “If you’re not having fun we’re not doing it right.”
Kadina High principal Ian Davies said students were more than keen to sign on.
“We had a similar program when I was principal at Byron Bay High School which was a great success,” he said.
“I saw several of those students on duty with the RFS as full members at Bluesfest, which was great. They were really proud of what they were doing.
“The gender balance is important too. It shows students that this is not a male-dominated profession, which helps to break down those barriers.
“It’s a great way for students to develop life skills and raise their awareness of what the emergency services do.”