Jr. Firefighters Waiting in the Wings

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

June 28, 2005

For the past 7 years, the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Company has held its Junior Fire Rescue Academy for teens who want to become firefighters. Some local teens are taking advantage of this up-close look at what it is like to be a firefighter.

It's a life threatening job and six teens are looking forward to the challenge that awaits them.

"It can be hard at times," said third year participant Josh Pugh. But this hasn't stopped him from being a part of the Annual Junior Fire Rescue Academy for the past 3 years. He like other firefighters finds the academy useful for everyday life. "Even it you're not going to be in the [fire department] service, it's just basic information [that] you could use any day," he explained.

Sponsored by the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Academy and Albemarle County Fire Department, this program is targeted towards young adults ages 16-18, who are interested in firefighting and emergency medical services. It gives teens a one-week opportunity to have some hands-on experience being a firefighter.

Junior firefighters not only learn how to use ladders to fight fires, they also receive firefighting gear to wear, that can weigh up to 75 pounds.

"Yesterday I just got my gear and I was really excited and I was wearing it all over my house yesterday," said first year participant Jenna Cerrone, "I like it."

As long as they are a part of the program, the teens get to use the gear, and learn how to suit up with the heavy gear quickly and properly.

Many of the teens are certified in certain areas giving the opportunity to assist on call into the fire department.

The academy not only gives junior fire fighters a look into a possible future, but it also gives fire fighters something to be proud of.

"I'll be glad, because when I retire I'll know what kind of fire fighters we will have," said Albemarle County Fire Fighter Phil Caudle. "It gives me confidence that we're doing the right thing."

On Friday, the junior fire fighters will demonstrate all the things they've learned the entire week of the academy and enjoy a cookout to celebrate.

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