Junior program helps recruit volunteers

Published 9:05 am Thursday, August 11, 2016

By Ron Semple

Special to the Enterprise

ADVANCE – New budding firefighters at the Advance Fire Department will dig into something cool before they get into something hot.

The department will hold an ice cream social and reunion for fire campers, junior firefighters and cadets on Aug. 16 at the Station 12 firehouse on NC 801 in Advance.

Capt. Ronnie Robertson invited parents to join their campers to learn more about the junior firefighter program which is open to rising sixth grade and older students who are not yet 16.

Junior firefighter training is ongoing through the school year and centers on members learning to assist on the fire ground locating and by retrieving equipment from the fire trucks, preparing air pack bottles and helping with rehabilitation efforts.

Juniors do not actively fight fires.

“Safety is our first priority,” said Robertson. “Not all juniors suit up on calls, but the ones who do work under the close scrutiny of adult firefighters.”

Chief Rodney Miller said the Advance Fire Department relies on volunteers. “It’s either that or we have to hire professionals at significant cost to the taxpayers.”

The junior and cadet firefighter programs are to generate interest in the fire service at an early age and provide volunteers for the department when its members graduate from high school and reach 18. Junior firefighters become cadets at 16. The department now has eight junior firefighters and two cadets.

Josh Collins is the latest firefighter to graduate from the junior firefighter program. He works with the cadets.

Miller is a former junior firefighter as is Robertson and captains Tommy Meyer, A.J. Burton, and Rick Hockaday.

“Undoubtedly, we’ll get more juniors from our 4th Annual Fire Camp which was our most successful yet,” said Robertson. “We had 23 campers.”

The campers got their introduction to what the fire service does during three days of hand-on training that covered: safety rules; hose operations; sprinkler systems; fire apparatus; personal protective equipment; rescue equipment; extrication equipment; helicopter operations: CPR and first aid; ambulance equipment; ropes and rappelling; aerial ladder truck; driving simulator and fire extinguishers.

Robertson said: “We put almost as much emphasis on our campers and juniors having fun and we do on them staying safe.”

The fire camp program was organized and run by Andrea Stewart, Myers, Hockaday and Robertson.

This year’s fire campers were: Chandler Allen, Logan Allen, Jarret Barnes, Peter Bland, Jonathan Bowman, Austin Casey, Rhod Collins, Rachel Dove, Jonathan Gunter, Elena Lopez, Meredith Lopez, Logan Miller, Luke Morgan, Vinnie Ressa and Garrett Todd, all of Advance; Bradon Finney, Michael Galliher and Landon Leonard, all of Mocksville; Adam Carter of Clemmons; Baytop Foster of Winston-Salem; Nia Harris of Pfafftown and Tate Kenner of Kernersville.