Junior fire programs raising next firefighter generation in Licking County | #education | #technology | #training

Building the future.

That’s what local fire departments aim to do, raising the next generation of firefighters through junior fire programs.

Just outside Newton Township’s fire station, five Licking County teens clad in fire protective gear spent a recent Sunday evening learning how to safely extinguish an intentionally set fire inside a burn barrel. They took turns spraying the flames using a variety of mixtures under the direction of program coordinator Todd Smith.

According to Smith, their junior fire program dates back to the late 1980’s. Smith said the department’s previous fire chief, Jim Glover, spearheaded the program.

More:Beloved Newton Twp. fire chief remembered as mentor, passionate for firefighting

“He knew the value of getting people in and getting them interested early,” Smith said. “When that was going on, this was strictly a volunteer department, so to get that young interest in it and get them started as a teenager and then after they were able to become a firefighter, you had them dedicated. They were interested and they were dedicated and they were loyal to this department.”

Students listen to an explanation of how different extinguishers work to suppress a fire during a meeting of the Newton Township Fire Department's junior program. The program, which recently restarted, hopes to mold the next generation of firefighters as they prepare for training programs like those at CTEC or COTC.

Smith estimated at least 20 have gone through the program and went on to serve at Newton Township. Others have moved on and are working full-time at other fire departments. Currently, the program has five participants around the ages of 13-14.

Newton’s program recently re-started after garnering some interest from area firefighters’ children. Smith said the kids have learned about protective equipment firefighters wear, done air pack drills, and learned about grass trucks and the equipment they hold.

Smith said he hopes to schedule a CPR and first aid class for the teens. And as the weather gets warmer, he hopes they can get Newton’s fire trucks out and teach the teens about their equipment and how to draft water from portable tanks.

According to Smith, the teens recently attending a landing zone lecture put on by MedFlight at Mary Ann Township’s fire department. Smith said he hopes they can help with water supply in upcoming training with a burn trailer, and go through a search and rescue trailer in another upcoming training.

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