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Cadets are hot stuff!

PUBLISHED: 17:16 13 November 2010

DECKED out in breathing apparatus and all the latest heat proof gear, they jump out of the fire appliance and sprint over to the scene of the accident as a team, ready to tackle any blaze.

Quick and efficient, it is a routine they have been drilled in time and time again so that, should they have to, they will be able to save lives.

But these hands gripping the fire hose are much younger than you might expect – some are barely into their teens.

Gorleston Fire Cadets are one of six training groups across Norfolk. Training those aged from 13 to 18 years old, the group has weekly three hour sessions on a Monday evening at Gorleston fire station.

Dave Cook joined 16 years ago when he was just 14, and, as well as being a retained firefighter at Great Yarmouth, is a unit leader for the cadets.

He spoke with pride of the lessons he learnt there, and of witnessing the development of those he now trains.

“It’s good watching them meet each other and grow up and just get better at everything. When they join they’re really shy – but through this they really come out of their shells.”

The cadets, who will be marching on Remembrance Sunday from Yarmouth Market Place, were recently given their own fire engine, and are shown by volunteer instructors what it takes to battle fires.

Whether acting out scenarios at the fire station’s very own custom tower block, or heading off to train others in fire safety, they are kept busy and alert.

“They can learn respect for themselves and others, as well as team working in a disciplined way that is also fun and allows them to use all the equipment” added Mr Cook.

“I think it’s safe to say that they thoroughly enjoy themselves.”

Charlotte Crame, 18, has dreamed of being a firefighter since she was young and joined the Gorleston branch four years ago.

Some of her highlights include watching a demonstration of cutting a car open in the event of a crash.

She said: “I wanted to be a fireman just to help people, really, and I like the hands-on aspect of it, too.

“This is really good because it means you get to meet new people and learn new stuff – it’s something to look forward to.”

Over their time, youngsters will have a two year portfolio of work to complete, which takes them from the basics through to the more technical side of firefighting.

And if not swatting up on the theory or practising scenarios, they might be checking out fire safety systems in supermarkets.

Or they might be meeting other cadets from Diss, Long Stratton, Thetford, Wymondham and Hunstanton.

However, Mr Cook fears that, because of their low profile, some might miss out on the experience and he is keen to attract more young recruits.

“Everyone knows about the Navy Cadets or Army Cadets but not a lot of people know we exist, which is quite a shame” he said.

“However, the more people we can get involved the better.”

All units are open to those between the ages of 13-18 but those joining must be between 13-16. There is a small subscription fee.

Go to http://www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk/Cadets.html for more information.

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