Grade 9 learners at Sibelius High School took a walk in firefighters’ shoes – literally – to learn more about their role in the community.The high school’s deputy principal Fuad Viljoen said the opportunity for learners to participate in a five-hour-long fire and safety course was one they could not pass up.“Our school isn’t only about preparing learners for Grade 12 but also developing them holistically in terms of preparing them for the world of work. “That’s why we grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and I think the learners thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” he says.A Western Cape education department initiative, the course was hosted by SA Fire Watch, a compliance company that provides a range of services in the fire industry, at its Ottery Youth Care Centre.Philip Jackson, the teacher who accompanied the learners, said the course shifted their paradigms, made them safety-conscious and equipped them with a set of vital skills.“Often, especially in summer, there are quite a few fires – particularly in the informal settlement. “(It’s valuable) because of what is happening in our vicinities – and to empower them in the community in case of fire,” said Jackson.Viljoen added that many of the children came from Overcome Heights where a large number of shacks had been lost to fires this year.Jackson said their newfound knowledge would also play an invaluable role in case of a fire or a fire-related emergency at the school. He said they planned to carry out fire drills to keep the training fresh in learners’ minds.Both Viljoen and Jackson thanked the organisations that made this possible for their learners, adding that it ignited an interest in school which many learners did not have before.“It was an amazing experience and they wanted to learn more. The learners were asking the firefighters which school subjects they needed to become firefighters – maths, physics and chemistry,” Jackson said..