The leaders of Carnlough Fire Cadet Scheme have spoken of their sadness that the group is to end after five years.
Since its opening, the scheme has trained over 40 young people in fire service skills.
Group Treasurer Manus Jamison, who has nine years’ experience as a Carnlough fire fighter, said the group had allowed youngsters to take part in a variety of tasks which were virtually identical to those undertaken by the fire service.
He told the Times: “They do hose running, ladder drills, road traffic collisions where they are cutting up cars, first aid and breathing apparatus. They start at age 14 and continue until they are 17 or 18. They learn great social skills which are very important like team work and fire safety. For those coming up to 16 or 17 years old, we concentrate on traffic and road safety.”
Importantly, the Fire Cadet Scheme has also inspired some former participants to take up fire fighting as a profession.
Manus revealed: “One of the cadets from our first batch, Leighton Glanville, is now a fire fighter in Carnlough. Being in the club inspired him to become a fire fighter. He was the cadet of the year. A couple of the cadets have also come back as civilian leaders.”
Manus, whose father was Watch Commander at Cushendall Fire Station for 25 years, is now watching his own son become one of the final cadets to take part in the three-year scheme.
He believes that there is disappointment within the local community that the initiative is coming to an end.
He stated: “It’s a great scheme for the community and outlying areas. Normally there are 12 youngsters in a youth group.
“The group will officially finish on June 8 or 9 to allow us to take them away to enjoy a last activity day.”
While declining to comment on the reasons for the group’s closure, Manus acknowledged that the scheme’s leaders are disappointed it is finishing.
He concluded: “Regardless of the scheme finishing, we will still continue to engage with local youth organisations as part of our extended fire service duties. The leaders of the Carnlough Fire Cadet Scheme are disappointed that they have had to take this decision and Carnlough Fire Station will continue to provide a professional fire and rescue service.”