A County Durham firefighter who started life as a teenage fire cadet a decade ago has spoken about his time climbing the career ladder in the region.

As a teenager, Kai McGregor dreamed of becoming a firefighter.

Now, more than a decade later, the cadet leader is helping to inspire the next generation.

The Firefighter from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) is one of the Lead Fire Cadet Instructors based at Consett Fire Station.

Every Wednesday night, he leads a group of cadets aged from 13 to 17 through drills and training that firefighters would undergo, including working at height and trauma care.

The Northern Echo: Kai McGregorKai McGregor (Image: COUNTY DURHAM AND DARLINGTON FIRE AND RESCUE)

The 24-year-old is passionate about his role in inspiring the next generation and equipping them with valuable life skills.

He joined the fire cadets at the age of 13 and loved it so much that he became a volunteer instructor five years later.

Now, to mark Volunteers’ Week, which runs from June 3 to 9, Kai has shared what he loves about the fire cadets.

“I started going to fire cadets because I wanted to be a firefighter,” Kai said.

The Northern Echo: Kai as a teenage cadetKai as a teenage cadet (Image: COUNTY DURHAM AND DARLINGTON FIRE AND RESCUE)

“The cadets are trained in every aspect of being a firefighter, but on a smaller scale.

“That includes working at height, the theory of dealing with road traffic collisions, water rescue and trauma care.”

The cadets also volunteer their time to help the service run events such as fire station open days and charity fundraising initiatives including car washes and bag packs.

Kai said his time in the cadets gave him valuable skills and experience when it came to applying for an apprentice firefighter role at the age of 18.

The Northern Echo: Cadets in Consett, County DurhamCadets in Consett, County Durham (Image: COUNTY DURHAM AND DARLINGTON FIRE AND RESCUE)

Kai, who is now a wholetime firefighter on Durham Blue Watch, said he spent four years in the volunteer cadet instructor role before becoming lead instructor in April last year.

“I love being a cadet leader,” Kai added.

“I enjoy giving something back to the kids and watching them grow and develop.

“It is great to see them gain confidence, social skills, and useful life skills.

He said: “Being a fire cadet gives young people something to be proud of.

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“As well as the social aspect, they can gain some qualifications out of it which helps improve their CV.

“It also stands them in good stead when they apply for jobs, particularly if employers ask if they do any volunteering and some can say they are an instructor for the fire cadets.

“Having the training and experience of the service prepared me for when I applied to become a firefighter which is the best job in the world.”

Fire cadets are based at Consett, Peterlee, Durham, Stanhope, and Spennymoor Fire Stations.