New cadet programme fires up kids
Kawakawa will now have a steady supply of firefighters after the establishment of a cadet programme aimed to expose youth to the emergency services.
Roger Dephoff, a firefighter with the Kawakawa Volunteer Fire Brigade, is co-ordinating the initiative for the first time. It will begin in 2018.
‘‘Ideally it will get them interested in the fire brigade first and foremost, but it also has a view towards the other emergency services,’’ Dephoff says.
‘‘It’s about planting the seeds and they can see whether they fit the bill and at the very least it gets them active and having a positive role in the community.’’
It’s also about respect, and keeping active with an emphasis on connecting with people in the community.
A lot of youth cadets in the past have gone on to become volunteer firefighters, Dephoff says.
The programme will take youth aged 12-16 for trainings once a week and include visits to the Auckland Airport’s fire brigade.
They will have the opportunity to work with the Kawakawa brigade’s operational firefighters and have a ‘‘strong regimental flavour’’ with Dephoff’s background in the New Zealand Army, and others with Army and Navy experience.
‘‘We have got everything here, we just need to pull it together, we are fortunate the organisation supports this type of activity,’’ Dephoff says.
‘‘All of the volunteers in the brigade, also volunteer somewhere else, so we hope there will be a natural flow on effect.
‘‘We are aiming to have buy-in from the whole family.’’
Dephoff, who is also a community constable for Kawakawa and Moerewa, says the programme is a way to keep the kids engaged.
‘‘In rural towns, we can get inactive or under-engaged kids, if anything [the cadets] will keep the kids active and engaged and less time to get themselves into trouble.
‘‘There is a lot of buy-in with the lights and sirens.’’
Otulea Latu, 11, says he is excited about joining the cadets.
‘‘I want to help people out, it’s fun and it’s nice to see people happy.’’
❚ If you are interested for your child to join the cadets, meet at the Kawakawa Volunteer Fire Brigade, immediately after the Christmas Parade on December 2, which starts at 12pm.
Roger Dephoff with Tekairangi Faulkner and Tyran Craig.