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Scottish Fire and Rescue Service run work experience programme for Glasgow schools

An exciting new work experience programme designed to make communities safer and stronger is being piloted by Glasgow’s community fire stations.

The first stage of the pioneering project will involve 60 young people from schools across the city but it has already proved so successful, plans are afoot to repeat it next year.

It is the first time the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, a partner in our Streets Ahead community campaign, has run a work experience programme. If popular, it also has the potential to roll out nationwide.

Station manager Paul Blackwood, who welcomed the first cohort of would-be firefighters to Cowcaddens Community Fire Station earlier this month, explained: “This is a first for Glasgow and the response from our high schools has been fantastic.

“Young people spend a week at the station, learning important lifesaving skills and drills and getting a sense of what is required to be a firefighter.”

He added: “But it’s not just aimed at young people who want to join the service. Everyone taking part will learn valuable employability and healthy and safety skills, gain team building experience, and leave with an accredited qualification.”

At one of the early sessions, pupils aged between 15 and 17, from several schools including Knightswood Secondary, All Saints Secondary, John Paul Academy and Govan High, worked together on a road collision scenario.

‘Casualty’ Jade Anderson, who was stretchered out of the crashed vehicle, said it had been a sobering experience.

“Most of us have just started learning to drive and it makes you think when you do something like this,” explained the 17-year-old St Andrew’s Secondary pupil, from Springboig.

“I’m really keen to be a firefighter. This week has been hard work, physically, but also emotionally too as you see the impact of fire and accidents on people’s lives.”

Emma Esplin, 17, who is a pupil at St Paul’s Secondary, agreed: “I want to be a firefighter in the Navy so this will be an incredible experience for me.

“The instructors are all firefighters and they have been brilliant at teaching us how to do the job, and keeping us motivated. Even if you don’t want to be a firefighter, you’re learning a lot.”

Paul Blackwood added:“It’s a fantastic programme, not just from an employability point of view, but because it allows us to emphasise important messages surrounding fire safety to a generation about to make their mark upon the world.

“These young men and women will then take those messages back to their peer groups and wider communities – messages surrounding safe driving, for example, and anti-social behaviour.

“We know from our successful Fireskills Outreach courses that attacks on fire crews and secondary fires are significantly reduced in communities where young people have taken part in the programmes.

“As well as inspiring young people to consider careers in the fire service, this new work experience programme will build on that work already done, to create stronger, safer communities around Glasgow and beyond.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Area Commander George McGrandles said: “The work experience programme is a tremendous opportunity for young people to gain both transferable skills and valuable knowledge of how Scottish Fire and Rescue delivers its service to our communities.

“SFRS is delighted to run such courses in partnership with Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Education Services and will continue to work with our young people to ensure they have a pathway of choice.”

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