The Junior Fire Cadet Programme offered by the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) has been expanded and rebranded.
Once catering to teenagers, ages 13 to 15, the programme, under its new name – the Fire Cadet Programme – has been expanded to include senior fire cadets, aged 16 to 18.
The programme, now in its 19th year, was officially relaunched at the Arch Hall Fire Station this morning, and lauded by Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson.
“The realization of this programme each subsequent year is also a recognition by the Barbados Fire Service that there is a need to encourage young people to understand that a career in the Fire Service is an option which they have,” he said, noting it had “stood the test of time”.
Mr. Hinkson said the BFS should be commended for the programme as “many other well-intentioned activities” designed for young people often fell by the wayside.
“This programme, which came out of a vision to teach our young people the rudiments of fire safety, and introduce them to elements of the Barbados Fire Service, is a success story of which the management of the Service can be quite proud,” he said.
He also noted that the BFS was able to create a pool of potential recruits to make the transition from fire cadet to fire officer.
Under the expanded Fire Cadet Programme, senior fire cadets will become an integral part of the programme, which will see participants moving from the basic phase to a more advanced programme.
This will include being able to function within their communities as fire safety ambassadors, and spreading the message of fire prevention and safety to those they encounter.
“This programme gives you the opportunity to develop life skills. We all went to school and had traditional academic education up to age 16.
But it is unarguable that our traditional academic education does not always give us the life skills necessary for the world of work…, being able to deal with the challenges of life, how to operate in a team and how to resolve conflict…. Programmes such as this will help you develop those life and work skills,” the minister advised.
He also urged the cadets to embrace the training over the next six weeks as it could also pave the way for greater job opportunities in the future.
Chief Fire Officer and Director of Training at the BFS, Errol Maynard, outlined that while the junior fire cadets would be taken through the usual introductory courses, the seniors would attend training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for six weeks, and on Saturdays, until the age of 18.
During that time, the senior group will undergo advanced training in life safety skills, participate in community programmes, deliver lectures and other activities to the public.