Advertisement

Teenagers get taste of fire service through Franklin Co. Fire Chiefs' Assoc. Junior Firefighter Academy

July 22, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Devin Dick of South Mountain, Pa. puts on his firefighting gear for a training excercise at the eighth annual Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association Junior Firefighter Academy.
By Ric Dugan / Staff Photographer

MARION, Pa. — Two years ago, Austin Epperson watched fire rip through a building in his town.

“That’s when I decided I wanted to be a firefighter,” said Austin, 14, of Mercersburg, Pa.

This week, Austin and 26 other teenagers are getting a taste of fire service through the eighth annual Franklin County Fire Chiefs’ Association Junior Firefighter Academy.

They donned gear to watch flames consume straw and wooden pallets in a burn building on Monday afternoon.

Austin described the first day of the academy as fun, but challenging. Several of his classmates said they were ready for a shower after wearing the heavy gear at the straw fire.

Youths aged 14 to 17 are receiving training under today’s standards, according to camp Administrator John Petrarca.

The group started the overnight camp Sunday and will graduate Saturday.

“It’s the only program like this in Pennsylvania,” Petrarca said.

Instructor Clyde Thomas, a former Franklin County resident, traveled from his home in South Carolina to volunteer at the academy.

“It’s a great program,” he said. “It’s an opportunity I never had when I was in their position.”

Petrarca agreed, saying he started learning about fire service at age 14 in western Pennsylvania.

“This would’ve been an eye-opener,” he said.

The camp costs $350 for Franklin County residents. It includes instruction in engine operations, truck operations, a physical challenge, a field trip to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., and demonstrations during a family night.

Mechanicsburg, Pa., resident Kevin Nelson, a firefighting and EMS instructor who served as a guest speaker Sunday night, told the teenagers to have a vision for their careers.

Justin Barnhart, 17, of Marion is attending the camp for a second year. He is the only representative from the Marion Fire Department.

“I came out to learn how to be a better team player with other departments,” Justin said.

Highlights from last year were the team-building and diversity of the group, he said.

“Coming out here and doing the stuff we did really gave me a sense of betterment,” Justin said.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|