My story started when I became a Fire Cadet at Christchurch fire station when I was 14 years old. Cadets is a 20 week course, learning about the role of the Fire & Rescue Service along with learning basic firefighter skills in pumps & ladders, road traffic collisions and breathing apparatus. I was lucky enough to be selected as one of four Cadets to go on the Fire Cadet Exchange to Bremerhaven in Germany at the end of the course. I had the opportunity to spend five days learning about the German fire service.
On my return, I asked if there was a way of continuing my involvement with the fire and rescue service, and I became a Volunteer Cadet Peer Mentor for the next course at Wareham fire station. I continued this role for further cadet courses at Dorchester, Weymouth and Hamworthy. I also volunteered on a number of SPARC and SPARC Plus courses. As a Peer Mentor, I was asked to take part in further exchanges to Cherbourg in France and joined the team at Lulworth when the French and German cadets came to England.
Whilst doing my mentoring, I was selected to become the High Sheriff of Dorset’s Cadet, where I was offered even more amazing opportunities such as watching the Red Arrows from a Royal Navy ship.
Through my volunteering, I was put in contact with my local retained crew at Christchurch, who allowed me to attend their drill night so I could see and learn about their role in the community and what was involved in being a firefighter.
Leading up to my 18th birthday, the Service was recruiting Apprentice Firefighters. I applied and, using the support and experiences I had gained all the way along from being a Cadet, I was lucky enough to gain a position on the intake.
I have now come to the end of my apprenticeship, aged 20, and am a competent wholetime firefighter. I am also hoping to become a retained firefighter at Christchurch at some point in the future.
Volunteering with the Fire & Rescue Service has given me opportunities that I might not otherwise have had. One of the best thing about the Fire & Rescue Service is that, if you are keen and committed, opportunities will arise and people will support you with achieving your goals. If it wasn’t for the brilliant Youth Intervention Team and many others, I wouldn’t be so lucky to be doing my dream job right now.
Firefighter Calum Maile