Sergeant (V) Jean Yves is a new volunteer firefighter in the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit
Meet SGT1 (V) Jean Yves, a newly minted volunteer firefighter in the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU) who works full-time in a pharmaceutical company. SGT1 (V) Jean is French and became a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) in 2020 after spending 12 years on the sunny island pursuing his doctorate (PhD) in Bioengineering, juggling a full-time career and starting his family. To him, Singapore is more than just a home and he is now proudly serving the nation by volunteering his time in the CDAU as a firefighter.
“After I became a PR in 2020, I was eager to become a first responder and serve as a volunteer with the SCDF CDAU. Unfortunately, I was informed that the recruitment for volunteers was put on hold due to the COVID situation at that time,” SGT1 (V) Jean said as he recalled how he waited patiently for the opportunity to serve with the CDAU. “And so, I waited for two more years before I was finally selected to undergo the Volunteer Firefighting Course (VFFC) which was held from August to November 2022.”
After three months of intensive training in the Civil Defence Academy, the trainees including SGT1 (V) Jean proudly graduated from the course and were posted to fire stations where they will be putting their firefighting knowledge and skills to good use.
SGT1 (V) Jean (front row, in the centre) pledging to serve the nation as a volunteer firefighter upon passing out of the VFFC
“On my first day of posting to Alexandra Fire Station, I had the opportunity to meet the Fire Station Commander, MAJ Benjamin Lim, who warmly welcomed me to the station. It was a great place for me to start my volunteer journey as a firefighter and I am amazed by how everyone is extremely professional and competent in their job. I hope I can do a good job as well.” SGT1 (V) Jean remarked.
Before becoming a PR in Singapore, SGT1 (V) Jean was working in California, United States. During this time, he learnt that some of his university seniors were pursuing their PhDs in Singapore and heard how they have enjoyed their stay in the country. SGT1 (V) Jean was inspired by his seniors and set his mind to make Singapore his home.
“I chose Singapore because it is a very safe place to live and work in. There are also a lot of career opportunities and good universities. The people that I have had the pleasure of meeting are friendly and hardworking. I aspire to be like them and excel in the things I do”, SGT1 (V) Jean said. He added that he liked Singapore so much that he seldom travelled overseas except on occasions when he had to travel back to Europe for personal reasons.
When asked about his experience as a trainee in the VFFC, SGT1 (V) Jean was candid in the way he described it.
“Firefighting requires an organised team effort with a strong team spirit because the work is physically demanding. I had to carry two hoses weighing 20 kilograms (kg), a Breathing Apparatus (BA) set weighing 10kg and donning the bunker gear which protects us from the fire. It took me some time to acclimatise myself as the bunker gear tends to trap heat emitted from our body, especially after an exercise or a drill. I did not grow up in a warm country and so I had to put in the extra effort to adapt to the heat when donning a bunker gear, which was my biggest challenge during the training”, he said.
Volunteer Firefighters watching a training demonstration donned in their bunker gears
“Another memorable training experience for me was going through the Breathing Apparatus Proficiency Test (BAPT), where we need to complete various static exercises in our full bunker gear with BA set, and navigate through a maze in confined space within a specific timing. I thought I was able to complete the training with ease as I was confident in my physical fitness, but it has proven to be a very humbling experience for me.”
Volunteer firefighters attending an evening lecture on HazMat Detectors
Despite being a father of two kids and holding a full-time job, SGT1 (V) Jean was determined to be a volunteer firefighter. He attended the VFFC training that was largely held on weekday evenings. It was certainly no easy feat but the strong bonding and camaraderie that he had developed with other volunteer trainees kept him going.
SGT1 (V) Jean practices the quick laying of a hose with his course mates during a training session
“I loved how we constantly encouraged one another during the training and exercises to go beyond our limits. It speaks volume on the team spirit that we had developed throughout the course, and gives me a strong sense of belonging”, he said.
When asked if SGT1 (V) Jean ever wanted to pursue a full-time firefighting career, he expressed enthusiasm if there is a future opportunity, “I would definitely consider giving full-time firefighting a shot in future! But I still have a lot to learn about firefighting and I also must be competent in what I do first”.