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Thread: Junior involvement on scenes.

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    Default Junior involvement on scenes.

    In my department, we have around 20 juniors to 25 seniors. Our juniors respond to every call except mutual aid. As you can imagine, juniors have been present where people have died, whether that be MVA, structure fire or other.Our department extremely values the juniors, perhaps too much. Only thing they don't do is Interior firefighting. They even drive our rescue truck. I'm curious how other departments view this and juniors in general.


    Info: 200 calls a year, no EMS. 5000 pop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    In my department, we have around 20 juniors to 25 seniors. Our juniors respond to every call except mutual aid. As you can imagine, juniors have been present where people have died, whether that be MVA, structure fire or other.Our department extremely values the juniors, perhaps too much. Only thing they don't do is Interior firefighting. They even drive our rescue truck. I'm curious how other departments view this and juniors in general.


    Info: 200 calls a year, no EMS. 5000 pop.
    I believe junior programs have their place in the fire service and that place is to educate, train, and prepare them for a position on the fire department when they reach adulthood. I do NOT believe that in any manner whatsoever that underage children should be anywhere near the warm zone, let alone the hot zone of any type of emergency incident. They can be utilized on scene to perhaps help pump operators, fetch equipment, change air cylinders, and pick up after the incident is finished.

    If you are talking about children under the age of 18 operating fire department vehicles all I can say is are you guys CRAZY? I would bet your insurance carrier doesn't know about that, especially if they are running red lights and sirens.

    Sorry, and I know there are others here that disagree with me on this and that is okay if they are willing to assume the liability for children on scene, I am not. To me there is just no need for it.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 01-04-2013 at 06:41 PM.
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    OOOPS, double post!
    Last edited by FyredUp; 01-04-2013 at 06:40 PM.
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    I should add that to drive, they need atleast a probationary license 17, in NJ, and need to go 6 months without accident or ticket. Also a training segment, so youngest driver would be 17 1/2. Also, age to join is 16, typically junior year of HS.

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    You are a very unusual FD, letting kids drive company vehicles. My FD requires members to be 21 before they can even start the driver training process. This also lowered our insurance premium.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitguy51 View Post
    You are a very unusual FD, letting kids drive company vehicles. My FD requires members to be 21 before they can even start the driver training process. This also lowered our insurance premium.
    Having them driving scares me even if they have an experienced officer riding shotgun with them. However, I envy your town's ability to keep that many kids interested in something that has nothing to do with tweeter, facebook, texting, video games, or persons of the opposite sex.

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    We have had Junior FF's since the 1940's or earlier, no one can quite remember when the program was started. A Junior FF may join the company upon reaching his/her 16th bday, must have written parental consent, and shall have the appropriate "working documents" issued by the State of Pennsylvania. Additionally they shall adhere to any and all child labor laws of the State of Pa, including times of response, hours of activity, etc. In addition, we require that they maintain at least a "C" grade average (the parents usually mandate higher GPA's.)

    Our Junior FF's must complete a thourough check-off sheet before qualified to respond on apparatus to emergencies. This check-off sheet is a basic Firefighter skills sheet which familiarizes them with all equipment on board apparatus- where it is, how to deploy and use it. Special emphasis is placed on tagging hydrants with the humat, pulling handlines, raising ground ladders and other basic skills to assist Senior Firefighters. They also shall complete a County or State Junior Firefighter or Firefighter I (minus the interior portion) within 18 months of joining the Company.

    Our Juniors are allowed to operate in "warm" zones that dont have a lot of smoke but may NOT enter or go onto (roof) an IDLH environment. Juniors may not operate power tools of any kind, or operate apparatus. Our drivers are required to be 21 years of age for all apparatus per our insurance provider.

    We have had fantastic success with our Junior Program thoughout the years, and many of our guys have gone on to become career firefighters, including several in Maryland (Harve Woods had one of our guys in his station as a Career FF/PM.) We have two who are career FF's in the City of Philadelphia; one of whom has reached the rank of Captain and is currently the skipper of a high-profile company. The other is a Lieutenant and regularly comes back and trains with us on drill nights. Another member who joined as a Junior is a Career FF in St Josephs Mo and recently achieved the rank of Driver/Operator. I myself started as a Junior, but thats a given as I was "hanging out" at the station with my Father (who started as a Junior in 1957 and remains active to this day) since I was knee-high to him. I myself have centered my career around public safety due to my being influenced by my involvement.

    One thing that HAS changed throughout the years (and I am glad that it has) is that the kids are no longer allowed to leave high school for runs. Back when rocks were young, if you heard the siren (school was about 750 yards from the firehouse, I made that run more times than I care to remember.) The guys today are not allowed to leave; which is probably for the better IMO.

    As for whether they should be responding to emergencies or not, I dont see why not, as long as they are closely supervised which ours are- and we know which mutual aid companies dont want them (there are only 1 or 2 but the others have Juniors of their own....) Juniors are allowed to get on rigs as long as there are open seats, which is hardly a problem nowadays.

    And for the record, IMO Juniors have NO business driving company vehicles to emergencies OR otherwise. They have little to no experience driving their own (or parents) vehicles- there is no way they should be entrusted with a Dept Vehicle with radios, bells & whistles and other distractions until they have a few years of driving experience under their belts.
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 01-04-2013 at 07:03 PM.
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    I'll throw my vote in for not driving, although I once encountered a junior program that owned the brush truck and was allowed to drive it off-road. A regular FF had to drive it from the station to the scene.

    Those juniors also raised money by doing controlled grass/brush burns. As I recall, they did so with minimal adult supervision... But I digress.

    The opinions I've see here in the past range from juniors never leaving the firehouse to what FWD posted. I'd opine that if they are on an active scene, they should be "outside the tape" until the scene is "cold." Rolling hose and otherwise picking up provides a good orientation. If they've been appropriately checked out, tasks like helping with rehab, fetching tools, etc would certainly be appropriate. I was going to say refilling air tanks at the cascade, but OSHA might take exception.

    That said - expectations should be clear to all parties involved. If FF Joe lets them handle a live line (and they're not supposed to), then Joe should get an earful. The juniors should have a clear progression.

    Given that you've said that they have experienced some bad scenes, I hope you're providing the appropriate mental health support.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    That said - expectations should be clear to all parties involved. If FF Joe lets them handle a live line (and they're not supposed to), then Joe should get an earful. The juniors should have a clear progression.
    I should add that ALL of our members receive mandatory annual training on the Junior FF policies which covers what they can and cannot do, where they can and cannot be, and when they can and cannot be there.

    As for bad stuff, anytime anything bad happens, we get an initial group CISD debriefing and if the counselors sense anyone needs extra support, they get it- Juniors also.
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    I can see absolutely no reason for minors to operate on live scenes under any circumstances other than established explorer programs or vocational schools. Period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I can see absolutely no reason for minors to operate on live scenes under any circumstances other than established explorer programs or vocational schools. Period.
    Silly question: whats the difference between them operating on live scenes whether they are part of an established explorer program, a vocational school, or a Department operated and fully authorized, monitored & insured program such as the one I described above?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Silly question: whats the difference between them operating on live scenes whether they are part of an established explorer program, a vocational school, or a Department operated and fully authorized, monitored & insured program such as the one I described above?
    Ditto and Explorer's can be a young as 14 years old.
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    First and foremost, I have to agree with the others that letting the juniors drive is something that your department needs to reevaluate. Our department doesn't even allow a member to look at the steering wheel of a vehicle until they're 19.5 years old, and they have to be 21 in order to start training on an air-brake equipped vehicle. A 17.5 year old simply doesn't have the experience driving a regular passenger car in order to make sound decisions driving emergency vehicles.

    That being said, juniors can be a valuable member on some scenes, and a hindrance on others. Calls where there are scenes of violence or death should have juniors on them, including those with fire fatalities. This also goes for hazmat calls, or letting them operate in or near a hot zone/IDLH.

    Went typically only have 3-5 juniors on our department, and we like having them around, but both the juniors and their parents are given clear rules, regulations, and expectations prior to them being voted in. They're also required to maintain a C average in school, not run calls between 2200 and 0700, can't leave school for calls or be at the station during school hours, and even if they turn 18 but haven't graduated high school, they remain juniors until graduation day.

    Oh yeah....please rethink your driving policies.
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    Unfortunately no counseling or mental health support is offered. Our department is so small and simple, there is no room for complications. An attitude of suck it up has existed since the forties when the JFD was started. Most seem fine, outwardly, fine. Kids don't want to appear weak or afraid. Some change obviously though, but nothing is done. I have no doubt some are changed. 16 year olds aren't ready to see many things. If they get private help, that's their business. A lot of it is pride in the JFD. Appearing weak doesn't sit well with that. The reason is because the JFD was founded due to all the men being at a war, and the young boys having to stand in that place, and there being no room for crybabies. This whole stepping up thing being the reason for allowing juniors to do so much to this day, including driving the rescue truck. I know most departments consider it insane.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    Unfortunately no counseling or mental health support is offered. Our department is so small and simple, there is no room for complications. An attitude of suck it up has existed since the forties when the JFD was started. Most seem fine, outwardly, fine. Kids don't want to appear weak or afraid. Some change obviously though, but nothing is done. I have no doubt some are changed. 16 year olds aren't ready to see many things. If they get private help, that's their business. A lot of it is pride in the JFD. Appearing weak doesn't sit well with that. The reason is because the JFD was founded due to all the men being at a war, and the young boys having to stand in that place, and there being no room for crybabies. This whole stepping up thing being the reason for allowing juniors to do so much to this day, including driving the rescue truck. I know most departments consider it insane.
    This post is quite possibly the best argument I have ever seen here for NOT allowing juniors on seen. If they see bad things that cause them problems and the attitude of the FD is shut up and suck it up...well, sorry that is just damn pathetic.
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    I don't disagree. But what can be done? Any asking for money for mental health will not be looked favorably on, and the chief won't be chief long if he starts pointing out elephants In the closet since the council decides chief. Also, what parent wil let their kid join if they know what they might see? There's no mention of anything other than pride and history at the meeting for parents before kids join.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    I should add that to drive, they need atleast a probationary license 17, in NJ, and need to go 6 months without accident or ticket. Also a training segment, so youngest driver would be 17 1/2. Also, age to join is 16, typically junior year of HS.
    If your a NJ department and part of the JIF (joint insurance fund) driving is 21 years of age. Period.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    I don't disagree. But what can be done? Any asking for money for mental health will not be looked favorably on, and the chief won't be chief long if he starts pointing out elephants In the closet since the council decides chief. Also, what parent wil let their kid join if they know what they might see? There's no mention of anything other than pride and history at the meeting for parents before kids join.
    I'm embarrassed to be in the same state as your FD if it's truly like this. I truly hope you are no where near me.

    I doubt you are near me cause I can't think of a single department that has their mayor and council determine who is fire chief.


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    I was going to suggest to the OP that if he was comfortable with it to actually show this thread to his departments "leadership," however, it almost seems like a lost cause. They wouldn't see themselves as the problem, only that the OP was creating problems. Sad and pathetic of them.
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    We're not part of JIF. To drive our engines, you need to be 18 with a full license. That's our only requirement. We are quite far away from point pleasant. If I brought it up, my chances for advancement would be shot and I'd be ostracized. Everyone knows about it, but it's not discussed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    If I brought it up, my chances for advancement would be shot and I'd be ostracized.
    Look at it from another way: you aspire for promotion within the department (nothing wrong with that). But with promotion comes accepting responsibility for those under your rank. Are you willing to take responsibility (in court, on TV, or in any other venue) when the department's well-known and often-ignored problems cause injury or death to a firefighter or civilian?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    I don't disagree. But what can be done? Any asking for money for mental health will not be looked favorably on, and the chief won't be chief long if he starts pointing out elephants In the closet since the council decides chief. Also, what parent wil let their kid join if they know what they might see? There's no mention of anything other than pride and history at the meeting for parents before kids join.
    Are you saying that your county or even your state has no Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team available? If they do generally their services are offered to emergency services at no cost. Sometimes the Red Cross offers this service too. So cost may be nothing more than a cop out excuse.

    To me the issue here runs very, very deep. If what you said is true it is bred into the culture of your fire department that "suck it up" is the only acceptable behavior. The fact that your Chief and the other officers have bought into this and carry it on is pathetically out of touch with all that is taught in todays fire service. Of course there are times we need to suck it up enough to get the job done but after that if we need help we shouldn't be embarassed or be thought of as weak for doing so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJHotstuff View Post
    If I brought it up, my chances for advancement would be shot and I'd be ostracized. Everyone knows about it, but it's not discussed.
    So you're only worried about your own hide here, rather than that of your younger, more impressionable members and what could be done to help them? In my book that makes you just a big a hairbag as your bosses are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    So you're only worried about your own hide here, rather than that of your younger, more impressionable members and what could be done to help them? In my book that makes you just a big a hairbag as your bosses are.
    Buff, lay off the man.. He needs that LT liscense plate and to talk on the squawk box...

    But seriously though, as someone who saw numerous dead/ maimed bodies in combat at the ripe age of 19..we were engaged by an RPG Team" one night on patrol, we engaged and destroyed 2 military aged males which turned out to be 14-16.. My tank had to provide scene lighting as the Iraqi police chucked their dead bullet ridden bodies into the pickup truck. I still remember what the 1 kid was wearing.. Sorta, it was soaked in blood/ full of holes.. And that was almost 9 years ago....

    Now back on point.. There is no reason for any kid to see a dead body if it can be prevented.. And CISM should be offered to ALL members after an incident where there are dead or seriously maimed bodies involved. It is your chief's duty to ensure the physical AND mental well being of his men.. It's part of being a leader.. Well a good 1 anyway.

    If I have nightmares/ flashbacks what do you think a 16 year old will do? PTSD.. I know it well, I have it.. And without proper treatment will cause serious issues.

    EVERYONE needs to look after each other, and the juniors.. And you are doing an injustice to the parents who trust you with their children if you don't set realistic expectations.. Seeing bad things included.

    It's 2013.. PTSD is for real... CISM is widely available... If your trash box chief doesn't believe in it then maybe someone needs to contact the mayor/council as to what he is all about..

    Now don't take this personally bro.. But stand up for what is right.. Do right by these kids, and for thief parents. You want to be in charge? Take on that responsibility and change things for the better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    It's 2013.. PTSD is for real... CISM is widely available... If your trash box chief doesn't believe in it then maybe someone needs to contact the mayor/council as to what he is all about...
    We've had several incidents over the years where CISD was offered, and even though my members who made the call weren't sure they wanted to go, afterwards they were glad they did.

    A good many of us know of someone who was on a bad call, returned to the station, turned in his gear, and was never seen again.

    I have to believe there is some sort of program available. And I can virtually guarantee that if one of those crusty old officers attends such a session after running a bad call, they'll come away a supporter.

    If I was worried about being ostracized for standing up for something, I wouldn't have made it to 35 years in this business. Most of those who would ostracize me are long gone, and now I'm a leader.
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