By Avra Sullivan
The Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department Cadet Program is a multi-faceted program that helps teens not only learn how to fight fires and handle emergencies, but instills leadership, teamwork, and communication skills as well. The program is led by Cadet Program Coordinator Francis Mowbray, who offers plenty of experience having been involved in volunteer fire departments both here and in Western Maryland for almost 40 years.
Teens can enter at age 14 and complete their training at age 16. At 16, they can become full fledge members of the fire department and can act as any other adult member, and go on to receive additional training. Cadets are introduced to how the department works, meet and interact with senior department members and even attend the business meetings, as a non-voting participant. Field trips also give them a vast knowledge of many aspects of emergency services. They have visited the Queen Anne’s County 911 center, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute branch in Centreville, other fire departments, both locally and in the city, and even had some live fire training at the main training center at the University of Maryland College Park. Mowbray says that almost all of the cadets have graduated into the senior department and most have aspirations of a career either as a fire fighter, EMT, police officer or related field.
Cadets are also taught leadership skills. While there are no officers per say in the program, senior cadets in their final year can become Cadet Leaders. They attend company meetings and give a report to members about the cadet program. They are also required to give a presentation to the other cadets on any aspect of firefighting they choose. While cadets are not able to respond to actual calls, they can participate in parades and all other facets of the department.
This training not only helps these young adults become good fire fighters, it helps them “grow up to be good people” says Mowbray.
The admission process begins with an introductory tour of the department where the program is detailed for the cadet candidate and their family. An application is then given and upon completion an interview with the cadet is held. Additional information about joining the program can be found by contacting Francis Mowbray at 301-821-7011. You can also visit their website at www.kivfd.org.