During the mid 1970's, the Waterford Fire Department initiated a cadet program intended to offer local area high school seniors the opportunity to experience first-hand what a career in the fire service was like. It was designed to prepare young, ambitious students for a career as a fire fighter. Since then many of the cadets that have participated in the program have gone on to become professional fire fighters with fire departments around the country. One former cadet became a smoke jumper battling the enormous wildfires in the western United States while others have chosen to enter the EMS field or the medical profession. Several fire fighters currently employed with the Waterford Fire Department are former cadets.
Only highly motivated, dedicated and ambitious young students are chosen from the increasing number of applicants. These students are selected based on their interest in the fire service, their academic and extracurricular accomplishments, their desire to further their education, their ability to strive toward their goals, their commitment to excellence, and their willingness to help those in need. Since many of the emergency calls in which the fire department must respond are medical in nature, cadets are thoroughly indoctrinated in emergency medical procedures. Such procedures include Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Automated External Defibrillation as well as the emergency treatment of the sick and injured. Cadets will finish the program certified by the American Heart Association in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.
What Cadets Learn
Instructors teach the fundamentals of firefighting utilizing the same resource materials and employing instructional methods similar to that found in an accredited fire academy. The program involves demanding classroom instruction, rigorous physical activities in which full participation is mandatory, and strict discipline in a military-style structure.
Cadets are allowed to attend and, in a limited capacity, participate in departmental training drills along side the fire fighters. Cadets experience, many for the first time, the physical demands of the profession.
Each cadet is issued a uniform and firefighting gear including turnout coat and pants, a nomex fire-resistant hood, boots, a helmet and gloves. They are responsible for keeping them clean, neat and serviceable at all times.
Cadets in the program attend a daily 2-hour class at the fire station as part of their school curriculum. They are also required to participate after school in "ride-alongs" with the fire department crews on their fire trucks. All cadets must, however, maintain an overall "C" average and a positive attitude to remain in the program.
It is our goal that each cadet, upon successful completion of the program, leaves with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to pursue a career as a professional fire fighter and give them an advantage in becoming a success in whatever their life's endeavor.
For more information on the Cadet Program, contact Todd Holmes at 248-673-0405 for the phone number.