Most teens spend the summer at the pool or on the couch, but cadets with the Miami Dade Fire Rescue Cadet Program aren’t most teens.
“I was not interested in this field at all and the second that I started, I realized that I had to do something in the medical program. It just became the number one love of my life,” said Taylor Adams, co-chief cadet with the Miami Dade Fire Rescue Cadet Program.
“It’s a brotherhood. It’s a sisterhood. It’s everything in a team. Making connections through cadets has been something that I’ve strived to do since I was little and the people that you meet here, it’s incredible,”
said Christopher Cilli, who has been with the cadet program for four years.
The Miami Dade Fire Rescue Cadet Program has been in existence for over 45 years and their mission is to gear up these kids to have strong futures. They learn fire service skills like CPR, victim rescue, community service and more.
“It has a great opportunity that this department offers for children from grades 9-12, while they’re in high school to do something more and chase a dream that they can’t do on their own. The department gives them that opportunity,” said Lieutenant Manuel Martinez, an advisor with the cadet program.
Over the last three months, the team competition cadets trained for over a hundred hours and last weekend it brought them to Gainesville where they competed in the 2022 Gator Games Fire Cadet competition. They came back with some hardware, winning 13 awards. There was even a competition to see who could get geared up the fastest. The did a clean sweep winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the individual rapid dress competitions.
“In this case we had three stellar individuals that scored 42, 44 and 44 seconds and milliseconds,” said Lieutenant Martinez.
Some of these skilled cadets have a family history with the department and many move on to graduate into firefighters. Four former cadets are graduating on Friday. The mentorship and teamwork is like none other.
“I started in the program 24 years ago. These kids mean everything. I love to see them thrive and I love to see them get where they need to be. We teach them about the fire service and how to become a fire department employee,” said Vanessa Siatkowski, program manager of the cadet program.
“Once you start, just the family that we provide and the training, the education and especially the opportunities and connections that you make here are something that you’re never going to see for the rest of your life,” said Adams.