Explorer Program produces two new call firefighters

  • Athol firefighters work with Fire Explorers to show them the ropes. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Published: 6/11/2019 2:09:23 PM
Modified: 6/13/2019 10:22:40 AM

ATHOL — The Athol Fire Department’s Explorer Program has drawn more than a dozen local youths this past session. Travis Brailey, Athol Fire Explorer program coordinator, said, “On behalf of the Athol Fire Department we would like to thank all the people who came out to attend the Explorers’ open house back in October of 2018. The purpose of this event was to get some local youth involved in the fire service and to offer a hands-on experience of what firefighters do on a daily basis.”

From the open house, 15 people signed up to pursue the program, which got promptly under way with training since then. Brailey said the department holds meetings/trainings twice a month for three hours at a time. The Explorers chose officers to be leaders of their group: Explorer Capt. William Roraback and Explorer Lt. Colby Hume. Both have since been appointed to the Athol Call Fire Department.

“It just shows what a great gateway program that it is,” said Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera.

One condition Explorers are required to follow is to maintain good grades and standings in school. Over the last few months, they participated in hands-on training with turnout gear, which is worn at the scene of a fire, motor vehicle accident or a hazardous materials scene. Explorers have trained to be fully dressed (donning and doffing of gear) in under one minute, which is the same practice that would be conducted at any firefighter academy. Explorers also were familiarized with the air packs, or SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), that is used at the same response scenes.

The Explorers also have trained on the fire extinguisher prop, and know how to properly and effectively use one. “We have been working on a long lug out drill which teaches you how to tell what direction you need to go when you find a hose line in a building and have to exit the building,” Brailey said. “When conditions are worsening or you are running low on breathing air and you need to get out, there is a 50/50 chance of picking the right direction for the hose. But there are ways to tell which way you need to be going and the Explorers are doing very well at finding and remembering them.”

The Explorers also passed their CPR certification class at their first meeting in March and were trained on a defibrillator. “In addition to the great job they have been doing,” Brailey said, ”we would also like to give a shout out to the family members who are transporting the Explorers to trainings and allowing them to miss some family time. It is a big commitment for both the families and the Explorers themselves, who have been showing the drive to continue and possibly pursue an amazing career once they are done with school or college. We look forward to what the future holds for both the Explores and this program.”

Youths who may be interested in looking into the program are urged to stop by the Athol Fire Department at 2251 Main St. for more information.

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