Châteaubriant fire brigade: they make many children dream and are recruiting right now …

Maël Bardoul, 23, has been a volunteer firefighter in Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique) since the age of 16. He is about to turn pro. © Cécile ROSSIN

Children often pick up fire trucks and gasp when they see a “real” one go by. Adults are often fascinated by the uniform and the missions that go with it. However, everywhere in France, Fire and Rescue Centers (CIS) are struggling to recruit new volunteer firefighters.

Wanted a dozen volunteers for Châteaubriant

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

There are currently “20 professional firefighters and 61 active volunteers”, the captain specifies. “It may seem comfortable but it’s not really that much.”

Indeed, Châteaubriant CIS operates with a “12 to 24 hour” calling system.

We need to have at least nine firefighters on duty 24/7 in the barracks. During the day, they are mostly professional firefighters, but at night and on weekends we work more with volunteer firefighters.

Captain Eztitxu Pouliquen

“We are also required to have it three firefighters on guard in addition to the nine on guard. In other words, three firefighters whose home or workplace is no more than six minutes away from the barracks ”.

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

What is the desired profile?

The on-call system allows you to consider hiring volunteers who live well beyond this six-minute perimeter. It is these people in particular that the head of the center relies on for her recruitment.

The profile sought is that ofa person between 18 and 50 years old and that it is not meant to move fast. “It is possible to enter a barracks from the age of 16, but since one cannot leave for training before the age of 18, it can seem very long …”, warns the captain. And, of course, that would not solve the problem of immediate CIS personnel.

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Yet this is the choice made seven years ago by the young Maël Bardoul, now 23 years old and raised to the rank of corporal. “I have been a volunteer firefighter since I was 16. This allowed me to train well for the two years before being able to leave for the interventions “.

“A childhood dream” for Maël, 23 years old

For him, “It was a childhood dream”although no one in his family has 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 precarious worker in logistics, believes that the constraints of availability are not so important: “We have one night call a week and one call 24 hours a day on Saturday or Sunday per month. I’m really happy to come, “she said.

Plus, he prepares to become a professional firefighter. “I’m in the competition phase: I passed the“ writing ”and the“ sports ”part; I still have the oral “.

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

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

A crisis of commitment

Commitments as strong as they are young are still rare today. According to the captain, the health crisis and its confinements are nothing. “People have refocused a lot on their priorities, they have had time to take stock of their lives …”

Gold, being a volunteer firefighter remains a “very demanding” commitment.admits.

The many news reports reporting attacks on firefighters are also on the rise, even if the head of the center assures:

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

Captain Eztitxu Pouliquen

The time to devote to this mission – and, first, to training (30 days in total, spread over 1-3 years depending on availability) – can be a problem even when you have a family.

Mom, she’s busy on her husband’s side

It is good though the choice of Justine Carlier, 34 years old and mother of a two-year-old child.

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

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

I wanted to get into it. It also allows us to share things. Of course, we are never available at the same time. We organize ourselves.

Justine Carlier, volunteer firefighter

“Dog trainer” by profession, she appreciates, like her young colleague, the “hyper versatile” side of the missions carried out. ” Then, it is self-transcendence. There are challenges every day.

Team spirit and mutual help obviously he seduced her too.

As for the difficult experiences that can arise from this commitment as a firefighter, he comments: “During my first intervention I found myself in front of a person who was about to die. But in this case, we turn on the brain, we are in our bubble, in our mission. Sometimes it is later that we think about it. But even there we are well supported. We are never alone“.

To meet the firefighters of Châteaubriant

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

CSI of Châteaubriant: 16 avenue Jean Moulin. Such. : 02 40 81 51 18. Email:

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