Engaging our Junior brigade members helps to build their capabilities and confidence.
The Morwell Junior Brigade has been running for the past six years. Junior Leader Craig Coleman has been part of the brigade for three years and said the program helps young members not only learn firefighting skills but overall life skills.
“As a Junior leader I try to design a program that enables kids to learn something and enjoy their time,” Craig said. “We have over 20 Junior members at the brigade, most of which have come from friends of the kids so It’s important to provide a program they enjoy.”
Although Craig is a Junior leader at Morwell, he’s a member of Traralgon Fire Brigade.
“Unfortunately there’s no current Junior firefighter program at Traralgon, so I offered my assistance to the neighbouring Morwell brigade. And prior to moving to the Traralgon brigade, I was a Junior leader with Narre Warren Juniors.
“I try to align the Junior program with the Volunteer Charter in terms of teamwork and leadership.
“I see the Junior program as a step up into seniors; we hope to teach the kids enough to inspire them to want to become senior members.
The brigade gives the 16 to 18-year-olds the opportunity to become assistant Junior leaders.
“So far two of our Junior members have stepped up into senior membership and both are currently assistant Junior leaders. Taking on an assistant role is a great way of easing them into seniors while also keeping them connected to the Juniors.
“When members turn 18 years old they can become a full Junior leader.”
Craig said Juniors is an opportunity for young people from across the town to meet up and make new friends.
“We have kids from all sorts of backgrounds, and many of them don’t attend the same school and some are home schooled. Joining Junior gives them an opportunity to mix with kids they normally wouldn’t.”
The Morwell Junior Brigade meets every Wednesday night but because of COVID-19 they’ve had to suspend training.
“In summer the brigade usually does more practical training outside such as mock car fires, maps and radios, burn over drills and search and rescues. In winter we focus on indoor activities and host a number of trivia nights to get the parents involved.
“In light of the coronavirus restrictions, we’ve been operating Juniors online using Zoom,” Craig added. “We’ve been doing quizzes, first-aid recaps, ropes and knots, and will be doing a trivia night electronically as well.
“It’s important to have Juniors because it teaches the kids fundamental leadership and teamwork skills. I like to see Juniors as the modern version of scouts but with fire trucks.”
Last year the Junior program added the crew leader role to give the young members more responsibility.
“Crew leaders are responsible for a group within the brigade for the session. This is a great opportunity for them to step up and take on responsibility.
“Seeing the kids develop through the Junior program has to be a highlight for me. Often the kid that walks through the door on the first day of Juniors isn’t the same as the one who leaves. They gain so many skills and their confidence grows significantly. I’m really proud of being able to support that.”