Our People: Fighting fires, saving lives and he’s still in high school

ENDURANCE: Cameron Moffat, 17, competing in the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Cameron Moffat, 17, is the youngest firefighter in the Rolleston volunteer brigade. He talks to Emily O’Connell about what it’s like to be a first responder and the mock car crash initiative he organised at Lincoln High School.

How did you become a firefighter?

My dad Bruce has been in the Rolleston Volunteer Fire Brigade for 15 years, so I’ve sort of been around the station quite a bit and it’s something I’ve been enjoying. I’m also with St John Youth so I do quite a bit of first aid and joining the fire brigade gets my abilities up in first aid because we are first responders here at Rolleston.

Is it weird being in the same fire brigade as your dad? Or quite cool?

Weird sometimes. He’s in the same crew as me so that’s how I get to the station because I’m not on my full licence at the moment. It’s good to have him around and I can talk to him about stuff I’ve seen.

When did you join the Rolleston Volunteer Fire Brigade?

I joined Easter 2017.

How have you found it so far?

I’ve found it really good. It’s been a good experience so far and definitely a lot different to the average teenager.

How many hours a week do you spend firefighting?

Every Wednesday for two hours for training and then once every four weeks we are on-call from 6am on Monday to 6am the following Monday during the night, and then Friday, 6pm, until 6am on Monday, we’re on the whole weekend.

Have you always wanted to be a firefighter?

It’s definitely something I’ve looked into a lot more now I’m older, and I’m thinking about definitely going career firefighting after I leave school.

Other than your dad, are there any other firefighters in your family?

My grandfather Ken Flockton used to be.

Can you tell me about your first call-out as a firefighter?

My first call-out would have been a motor vehicle accident on Old West Coast Rd at about 6.30am and I was on traffic control and then went to school after.

How did you feel? Were you nervous?

A little bit, but I enjoyed it. Since then I’ve been to a lot more.

What has been the most memorable call-out you’ve been to and why?

The most memorable would be a young lady who stopped breathing and we ended up resuscitating her. And about three months ago she came down to the fire station and thanked us.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from being a firefighter?

I guess don’t keep stuff in and definitely communication.

Is that when you’re out on a job or when you’re processing what you’ve experienced?

Yes, both. You need good communication on the fire round to make sure everyone’s well informed.

How do you process some of the things you see at such a young age?

Talking to dad or talking to my officer. My officer is quite high up in St John so he’s quite good to talk to when that sort of stuff happens.

What subjects do you take?

I’m taking biology, three PEs and media.

What is your favourite subject?

Probably media, quite enjoy a film and that sort of stuff.

Can you tell me about what sports you’re involved in?

I play football, touch and tennis and I do basketball refereeing. I also do firefighter combat.

How do you balance school, firefighting, sport and everything else going on?

Pretty much every day of the week I have something either fire-related or school-related or sport, and I don’t know how I balance it. Mum and dad drive me a lot of places so I guess without them it’s quite hard to get around. I’m also in the Rolleston Road Crash Rescue Team. So when we’re training for that and I’ve got combat training and school, it gets quite busy.

What hobbies do you have?

I do St John Youth so that’s every Monday.

What’s involved in being part of St John Youth?

It’s a cadet programme from ages six to 18. And it’s just camps, learning about first aid, doing a whole heap of badges, good social aspect, and then if you want to go into para-medicine, or something like
that, then it’s a step ahead in that area.

How long have you been involved in St John Youth?

I’ve been in 10 years, starting out from six-years-old. I guess with dad being in fire, I wanted to do that because fire doesn’t have a cadetship, so St John was something interesting and I’ve enjoyed it since.

What are your plans for when you finish school?

At the moment, I’m looking at an apprenticeship either in building or heavy diesel, doing that for a couple years. And either going and becoming a paid firefighter or a policeman and possibly a paramedic, see where I’ll go. Something to do with the emergency services is definitely a goal.

What are some of your dreams you hope to achieve?

Travel the world. I love travelling and, yes, be successful and follow my heart with what I want to do.

What’s your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?

Probably London. I love London. But I’ve been to quite a few other places. Probably Dubai is up there as well as one of my favourite places.

Do you have any siblings?

I have a younger sister Gabriella and she’s just
turned 16-years-old. She’s really into her netball and performing arts.

How long have you lived in Rolleston?

13 years.

What do you enjoy about living in Rolleston and the Selwyn district?

The community’s pretty cool. There’s lots of events and a great culture and that sort of stuff. It’s really close to everything – ski, alps and ocean.

What advice would you give to other young people?

Recently I’ve done a mock crash at Lincoln High School. So I was the dude who came up with the idea. I lost one of my good mates – Burgundy-Rose Brown – earlier this year in a car accident and there’s been people that I’ve known who were killed in the Boxing Day crash two years ago. So I guess that was sort of my message to the school and the community – like don’t drive with no seat belt, drive with a person with a correct licence
that sort of stuff. It went really well.