COMPUTER games and sports may be the mainstay for most teenagers, but some have taken up the chance to become part of a crack team.
The Young Firefighters’ Association gives youngsters the chance to learn skills such as hose and ladder operation, first aid and how to keep safe under the watchful eye of those who are already in the job.
Seaham’s group meets on Thursday evenings, with firefighter Daniel Smith, who has been in the job for four years, among the crew who lead the team.
“Everybody’s welcome and we meet all year round,” he said.
“We’ve been down to the docks to pump in open water, they’ve gone through decontamination, they’ve learned about road traffic collisions and first aid, so they have their certificates.
“It’s something for their CV when they look for work and it gives the young kids an idea of what this job is like.
“We’ve seen a massive change in those who have come along, and some have become mentors.”
Seaham’s members, who are aged from 13 to 17, has put its skills to the test at fire rallies, where other associations go up against each other to complete a series of tasks at a summer camp.
Dugald Donachie, 16, from the town, said: “I knew someone else who was in it and I was interested, so he said come along.
“At first I was a bit nervous, but I got to know people. It has matured us since we’ve been here and it’s a great thing to do.
“If anyone wasn’t sure, but they were interested, I’d tell them to come down and see,” said Dugald, a student at Seaham School of Technology.
Sean McCallum, also 16, has become a fabricator welder since leaving St Aidan’s Catholic School in Sunderland, and got involved in the team when his cousin Brad Green, 20, encouraged him to try it out.
“I was quite nervous as well, but I knew a couple of people,” he said. “I do want to do this for a living.
“This is great for team building, confidence and skills that have helped me when I’ve come to write my CV and get my job.”
Fifteen-year-old Stephen Noble, who also goes to Seaham School of Technology, has been part of the Young Firefighters’ Association for two years and also got involved when his cousin Ryan Giblin was a member.
“I’ve learned how to do first aid, tried out loads of things and I’m going to try and get in as a firefighter.”
Since it was set up seven years ago, it has been run in various forms, but its aims have stayed the same - to give young people the chance to develop physically, mentally and socially, understand discipline and a social conscience, and learn about leadership and being part of a group.
It is set up to give its members as real an experience as possible of the day to day duties of a firefighter in a safe environment. As part of their sessions, they will also carry out projects to improve safety in their community and while what they learn will prepare them for a host of careers, it is not a requirement of becoming a firefighter when they are old enough.
More information on the association is available from Jeff Davison, who co-ordinates the association and can be contacted on 332 4368.
ONE graduate of the team loved his time with the station so much, he now volunteers as part of its retained crew.
Michael Bacon was among the first to sign up to the Young Firefighters’ Association when it launched its branch in Seaham and became involved after spotting a poster in the station’s window.
Now 20, he spends his spare time with the station’s retained crew, with his bosses on the production line at Nissan helping to support his training by allowing him flexible hours when he needs to complete courses.
He also spent a year helping out the association after he was beyond its age range, tutoring the youngsters as they set out on tasks.
Former Seaham School pupil Michael said: “I was just 14 when I started, and as I got to know more, the more it grew on me.
“It was a big influence on me.
“Before, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
“I got my Duke of Edinburgh, my first aid and now I want to do it as a career.
“Anyone can just come down and give it a go.
“Come for a week, have a look around, see what happens and go forward from there.”
Michael plans to apply for a full-time job with County Durham and Darlington brigade when it advertises for new recruits.