Top marks for Fire Reach kids

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Students learn safety skills and how to work together as part of an effective team during a week of work experience at Kilmarnock Community Fire Station, Ayrshire

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A group of school pupils were watched by proud parents and Local Senior Officer James Scott as they ‘passed out’ at Kilmarnock Community Fire Station on Friday, 5 February, 2016.

The town’s Park School students were each given a certificate by Councillor Tom Cook, East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet member for Community Safety and Equalities, after a week of work experience with firefighters.

Moments earlier, they had shown off their skills in working together as part of an effective team in hose running and rescuing a ‘casualty’ from a pre-cut car that had been made safe.

Group Manager Kenny Hankinson is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Head of Prevention and Protection for East, North and South Ayrshire.

Speaking at the event, he said: “Throughout this week, our young recruits have learned about hose running, search and rescue and fire action plans which focus on how to exit a building safely.

“They also learned about CPR as well as attending a road traffic collision workshop which involved the roof removal of a vehicle which had already been cut and made safe. They were able to get someone safely out of the vehicle using a spine board.

“They clearly put in a lot of work to get to that standard - and I would like to commend every single one of them today.”

Turning to the students, he added: “I want all of you to take this as a starting point as we would really like you to be ambassadors for the Service and help us in pushing for greater safety in our communities. As far as we are concerned, you are now a part of the Service.

“I would also like to thank the instructors and the council for the funding which allows us to stage these great events. It is good for the pupils, it is good for us – and it is good for the community.”

The pupils were: Joshua Cunningham, 14, Daniel Butcher, 14, Jason Greig, 14, Jack Tognini, 14, Calum Gilliland, 14, Amanda Campbell, 14, Laughlin Bickerton, 12, Nicholas Byrne, 13, and Daniel King, 13. Their instructors were firefighters Carol Cairns and George Young.

Michelle Tognini, of Crosshouse, watched on as son Jack received his certificate. She said: “I think this is a great idea as it has boosted Jack’s confidence as well as his social and life skills. He got a chance to sample working life and learn a lot about safety. He was basically just really happy each night he came home. It really is just a great idea. The Fire Service do so much for the community.”

Aileen Greig, of Darvel, also watched on as son Jason received his certificate. She said: “This has been fantastic for Jason’s confidence. He has been coming home each night and you can see how proud he is of the work he has been doing.

“He was the team leader one day during a search and rescue exercise where they all had to work as part of a team to get through a dark room. I think he really enjoyed that sense of responsibility.

“I am so proud of him and it is fantastic of the Service to offer something like this to him and other pupils. I will be making sure to test my smoke detector at home – before Jason reminds me!”

The school children were supported throughout the week by Louisa McEvoy of East Ayrshire Council’s Vibrant Communities.

Kevin Wells spoke at the event on behalf of Vibrant Communities. He said: “I have seen Fire Reach grow over the last few years. The students today have shown a high standard of team work and communication. They did an amazing job.

“These skills are all transferable when they head into the world of work. They will be able to take the skills learned here during the past week and build them into an everyday part of their lives.”

Councillor Cook said: “I was delighted to attend the presentation and see first-hand the skills our young people have picked up over the week. All of the young people have worked so hard, they are a real credit to their school and their parents, and we were watching very proudly.

“On behalf of East Ayrshire Council I just want to say a big well done to everyone involved.”

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