I went to the passing-out parade at the Woodbridge firestation last Friday with no idea of what I was to expect – and was astonished by a virtuoso display of efficiency, competence and teamwork displayed by young recruits, all with a mere five days’ training under their belts!
They assembled, and swarmed up ladders, roped and rescued a survivor from a tall building, assembled various hoses, built a dam and put out an (imaginary) fire with real water in the most expert way – each needing to help and rely on the others in their team to ensure the operation ran effectively.
Firebreak is a youth engagement project run by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service at fire stations across the county. Targeted particularly at young people in danger of disengagement, it is an amazing five day programme combining drill-ground and scenario-based training, with theory/discussion workshops. The activities are wide-ranging: hose drills, health and safety training, first aid training, wearing breathing apparatus, search and rescue training, using ladders and training in road traffic collisions. These are learned in a context that relies on punctuality, good behaviour, cleanliness of kit, teamwork, helping colleagues, good discipline and responsibility. The ultimate aim of the programme is to improve self-esteem, self discipline and responsibility.
At the passing-out parade the recruits receive certificates, demonstrate drills, and – possibly most importantly – each is publicly singled out by someone who has trained them, and the entire audience is told of their particular personal skills and abilities.
Firebreak is a superb programme. I really can’t commend it highly enough!