Châteaubriant firefighters: they make many children dream and are currently recruiting …

Maël Bardoul, 23, has been a volunteer firefighter in Châteaubriant since he was 16. He is becoming a professional.
Maël Bardoul, 23, has been a volunteer firefighter in Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique) since he was 16. He is becoming a professional. © Cécile ROSSIN

Children often collect fire trucks and become awe-inspiring when they see a “real” one walk by. Adults are often fascinated by the uniform and the missions that come with it. But everywhere in France, Fire and Rescue Centers (CIS) are struggling to recruit new volunteer firefighters.

A dozen volunteers are sought for Châteaubriant

The CIS Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique) is no exception. The head of the center, Eztitxu Pouliquen, states that she looking for “a dozen new volunteer firefighters” to complete its workforce.

It is currently about “20 professional firefighters and 61 active volunteers”, the captain clarifies. “It may seem pleasant, but in fact it is not so much”.

In fact, the Châteaubriant CIS operates a “12 to 24 hour” dialing system.

We must be able to have at least nine firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the barracks. During the day they are the most professional firefighters, but at night and on the weekends we work more with volunteer firefighters.

Captain Eztitxu Pouliquen

“It simply came to our notice then three on-call firefighters in addition to the nine on duty. That is, three firefighters whose home or workplace is at most six minutes from the barracks ”.

The Châteaubriant Fire and Rescue Center, led by Captain Eztitxu Pouliquen, is recruiting volunteer firefighters.
The Châteaubriant Fire and Rescue Center (Loire-Atlantique), led by Captain Eztitxu Pouliquen, is recruiting volunteer firefighters. © Cécile ROSSIN

What is the desired profile?

The guard system makes it possible to consider recruiting volunteers who live far beyond this six-minute perimeter. It is especially these people that the center manager is dependent on for his recruitment.

The profile you are looking for is the one ofa person between 18 and 50 years and which are not intended to move fast. “It is possible to join a barracks from the age of 16, but since you are not allowed to go to training until you are 18, it can work for a very long time …”, warns the captain. And of course, that would not solve the problem of the immediate staffing of the CIS.

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Yet this is the choice that the young Maël Bardoul made seven years ago, now 23 years old and promoted to the rank of corporal. “I have been a volunteer firefighter since I was 16. This gave me the opportunity to train well for the two years before I could leave for interventions”.

“A childhood dream” for Maël, 23

For him, “It was a childhood dream”although no one in his family had this experience before him.

I’ve always wanted to do this. I wanted to help people. And what makes me want to stay is the spirit of cohesion that exists between us. We get along well, between volunteers and professionals.

Maël Bardoul, volunteer firefighter

The young man, who is also a temporary worker in logistics, believes that the shift restrictions are not so important: “We have one night call a week and a single 24-hour call on Saturday or Sunday of the month. I’m really happy to come, “he said.

And besides, he’s preparing to become a professional firefighter. “I’m in competition: I passed the ‘writing’ part and the ‘sports’ part; I still have the oral part”.

This young resident of Sudan (Loire-Atlantique), however, remains even though he is transferred to another barracks in the West as a professional, volunteer firefighter for Châteaubriant. “It’s entirely possible,” says Eztitxu Pouliquen.

The firefighters in Châteaubriant during the big morning of road prevention, organized by Rotary, on Thursday, May 5, 2022.
Châteaubriant firefighters during the big road safety morning hosted by Rotary, Thursday, May 5, 2022. © Cécile ROSSIN

A crisis of commitment

Commitments as strong as young people are still rare today. According to the captain, the health crisis and its confinements are not for nothing. “People have focused a lot on their priorities, they have had time to take stock of their lives …”

Gold, Being a volunteer firefighter remains a “very demanding” commitmentshe admits.

The many news of attacks on firefighters that are on the rise are also not to encourage calls, although the center manager assures:

In our sectors, we are still mostly well received by the population.

Captain Eztitxu Pouliquen

The time devoted to such a mission – and before, to training (a total of 30 days spread over 1 to 3 years depending on availability) – can also be a problem when having a family.

Mom, she’s committed on her husband’s side

That’s good, though the choice taken by Justine Carlier, 34, and mother of a two-year-old baby.

“I’ve been volunteering for a year and a half,” she explains. Recently settled in the Châteaubriant region, she thus joined her husbandeven a professional firefighter at CIS Castelbriantais.

Justine Carlier, 34, and the mother of a young child, has joined as a volunteer firefighter along with her husband, a professional.
Justine Carlier, 34, and mother of a small child, has joined as a volunteer firefighter along with her husband, a professional. © Cécile ROSSIN

I wanted into it. It also allows us to share things. Of course, we never have a guard at the same time. We get organized.

Justine Carlier, volunteer firefighter

“Canine trainer” by profession, she appreciates, as does her young colleague, the “hyper versatile” side of the missions performed. ” Also, it is self-transgression. Every day there are challenges.

Team spirit and mutual help of course seduced her too.

Regarding the difficult experiences that can arise from this commitment as a firefighter, she states: “During my first intervention, I was confronted with a person who was on the verge of death. But in this case, we turn off our brains, we are in our bubble, in our mission. It is sometimes later that we think about it. But even there we are well supported. We are never alone“.

To meet the Châteaubriant firefighters

For those interested in this commitment, the Châteaubriant firefighters will offer various activities during the Sports and Health Week organized in Châteaubriant from 14 to 22 May 2022. They can also contact the CIS directly or go to the barracks.

CIS and Châteaubriant: 16 avenue Jean Moulin. Such. : 02 40 81 51 18. Email: pompiers.chateaubriant@sdis44.fr

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