Fire Cadets Case Studies

Holly Lucas Borough Commander Cadet Ambassador - London Fire Brigade

Holly LFire Cadets opens your mind

It gives you the chance to meet so many new people and hear their stories, which expands your horizons. Plus, you learn to use the equipment and do activities that nobody else your age gets to do.

I used to be a really shy, quiet person - but Fire Cadets brought out my confidence

I was 14 when I applied. I was looking for something to help me feel more confident, and a way to meet new people I could socialise with. Both of those have definitely happened. Through volunteering, I’ve learned how to adapt to different situations and communicate better. It’s been a big step for me.

It’s also changed my view of my future

I’m aware of more careers in the fire service I could follow - when I first joined I didn’t know about any roles beyond fire fighter. So it’s opened me up to all the different pathways I could take.

A real highlight of my time as a cadet was when I took part in an Exercise Unified Response

Fire fighters came to London from several countries in Europe to take part in a practice simulation of a major emergency. I was a casualty, and had to be rescued by some Hungarian firefighters - that was a great moment! Seeing all the equipment right next to you, and being carried out by the firefighters, put in an ambulance and being driven around made it seem very real. It helped me understand how important the work of the fire service can be in a bad incident.

We learn about all sorts of social issues in the fire service

That helps us to understand the problems in our society and how we can challenge them. Anti-social behaviour is something we learn a lot about. My understanding has definitely increased.

It can be a big step to start coming to Fire Cadets

Some cadets who come in at the start of the year are going down the wrong path, but learning about social issues that affect them makes them realise they don’t have to. After they’ve spent some time as a fire cadet they become a completely different person, and they move away from those choices. They’re on the right path now.

Wearing my uniform makes me feel proud and happy

Especially as I’m a Borough Commander Cadet, I feel like I’ve earned this uniform. I’m not embarrassed to wear it. Someone who’s not a cadet might feel inspired when they see us - they can achieve this too.”

 


Megan Munns Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ambassador - London Fire Brigade 
Meghan MI discovered Fire Cadets after witnessing a fire in my neighbourhood

In 2014 there was a blaze in the block of flats opposite me, where elderly people lived. My family and I were involved in the evacuation of the residents before the fire brigade arrived. When they did arrive I was just mesmerised by what they were doing. It was like something out of a book - I thought it was amazing, and I wanted to get involved.

A few days after that I got a leaflet at my school saying Fire Cadets was looking for recruits

I was 14. You might call it fate, as it happened so shortly after I saw the fire brigade in action.
When I joined up in 2014 I was like a shadow. I would never talk or take part in things in school lessons. I liked my comfort zone, and that was at home doing my own thing. When I joined, all that isolation went out the window. I quickly started to build up skills. You have to get used to the other cadets fast, as you start working with them straight away.

One of my proudest moments was the first time I got one of my cadets to climb a ladder - she was absolutely terrified of heights

She didn’t come down the ladder, but she did go up - that was the main thing! That took about five weeks of building her up. I could see myself in her, and that helped me to bring her out of her comfort zone. In a way we did it together. My confidence grew too.

Our unit did a volunteering trip to Nepal

We helped to decorate an earthquake-proof school. Again, I was pushed outside my comfort zone - it was the first time I’d travelled outside the UK before, and it was life-changing. When I got there and saw how they live in those communities, I realised we have so much more compared to them. The trip was a turning point for me, helping me to see how big the world is. It was about those people, not me.

One of the most powerful cadet activities for me is just standing outside with a bucket, collecting money for good causes

It’s such a simple gesture, but people come and talk to you when they give you change. You find out people’s stories and what the fire brigade means to them - if someone in their family was part of it or if it’s helped them in the past. We get a lot of respect from the public.

I’m currently applying to be a fire fighter

It took me about six months to pluck up the courage to do it! It’s a long process, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could. If I become a fire fighter I’d like to teach recruits through Fire Cadets. Whatever happens in future, I’ll definitely stay involved.

 


TJ Routledge Assistant Commissioner Ambassador - London Fire Brigade Cadets

TJ

Cadets is more than just cadets - it’s a family

We’re challenging negative perceptions of youth. All young people need is a bit of love and a purpose. Joining Fire Cadets and sticking to it creates self-respect. It encourages people to love others and show respect, too. That attitude extends outside our unit, out onto the streets and at the events we go to. To have London Fire Brigade on my upper left chest and sleeve is a true privilege.

It also gives young people options they didn’t even know were there

I didn’t want to choose the university route. There’s no tightrope you have to walk along to be successful. You can explore all sorts of different ways, and volunteering with a uniformed group is one of those.

My father passed away in 2012

I wasn’t a troubled young person, but my confidence was knocked by that. I got involved with LIFE - an intervention scheme London Fire Brigade runs to help youths develop. A few of my school teachers put me on the course, and it helped me get my confidence back. I won a Jack Petchey Achievement Award through that, and a fire fighter who was running the course suggested I should join Fire Cadets. He said I’d be a credit to them. I want to help other young people see that they can be who they want to be - they just need the right mentality. I watched a documentary about gangs, and a young boy about 13 or 14 said that living in London today was about survival. I thought ‘there’s no way that’s true’. London today should be about thriving - I want to show young people that’s possible. Fire Cadets has given me the opportunities to become someone with self-respect and respect for others. I know other young people can achieve the same.

In cadets, we don’t care about where you’re from

When you’re a cadet you’re a cadet - that’s it. We all come together and learn from each other. I worked with one young person who was struggling. She wasn’t really doing her GCSEs. Fire Cadets was the only educational input she was getting, and with us she got her BTEC. That qualification showed her she could achieve more.

There’s also no pressure to be a fire fighter

If you decide you want to do that, great - but you don’t have to if it’s not for you.

Joining cadets has inspired me to travel the world a bit too

In 2015 I went to Lebanon to volunteer, at a time when it was quite a dangerous place. We helped refugees and went to schools there to deliver lessons. That was the most amazing life experience I’ve ever had, and gave me a taste for more trips to help people. In 2016 I went back to Lebanon, and I also went to Sri Lanka, to work in an orphanage. This was all separate from Fire Cadets, but being part of it gave me the confidence to do it.

Fire Cadets has been a massive part of my journey towards who I am now

I want to progress in the fire brigade - maybe someday I’ll be a Commissioner, who knows. But there’s no way I’ll ever forget how cadets helped me.”