Junior firefighters get feel for the job
by Celia Shortt
Coweta County Fire Department’s first Explorers Expo and Competition was a success on Saturday as teenagers from across Georgia and from as far away as Texas came to compete, learn and have fun.
The Explorers is part of the Learn for Life program, and each Explorer post focuses on various careers, including firefighting. In those posts with fire departments, each group consists of teenage boys and girls, ages 14 to 18, who want to learn about the trade.
“Our goal is that everyone has fun,” said firefighter Justin Klinger, who is also a lead advisor with the Explorers. “Of course, we want to win, but if we have fun doing it, it will be great.”
The Coweta County Fire Department Explorer Expo and Competition is simply a “friendly competition with other Explorer groups from across the country,” he added.
The competition featured six different events, testing basic firefighting skills along with mental and physical strength. One event, “quick dress,” required each Explorer to go from street clothes to their full firefighter dress in under two minutes, which is an actual requirement for firefighters.
Another event was the Pittsburg Drill, which simulated finding and rescuing a downed firefighter. Participants would crawl through a tight space, resembling a pet door. Then they would crawl along the ground, up and over an A frame and through a metal tunnel until they reached the mannequin, or “downed firefighter.”
From there, they would pull the mannequin back through the tunnel and over the obstacles through which they had just come until everyone was back at the starting site.
Other events included: a relay race, testing strength, coordination and mental acuity; a barrel race, testing maneuverability; an obstacle course, testing team work; and a bucket brigade, using buckets to move water.
In addition to Coweta’s Explorer Post 700, posts from Peachtree City, Henry County, Helena, and Cass County, Tx., participated.
“This is our first event, and we have five different groups … I’m excited,” said Alan Smith, assistant chief of Coweta County’s fire department.
“I’m proud we had five groups show up for our first one.” Smith hopes to make the event an annual one, but, more importantly, he hopes through this competition the Explorer members will not only learn and have fun, but will also be able to network with firefighters and members of other Explorer posts.
“Maybe some of them will become firefighters one day,” he added.