Junior Firemen: My Perspective
Recently I have seen a lot of posts regarding Junior Firemen with such questions and oppinions on such topics like, "Should Junior Firemen be allowed to ride the Apparatus?", "Should they respond to MVA's?", "Should they be allowed to leave high school for a call?" (I myself have answered that one), etc, etc. I started out as a Junior Fireman and I think that it is an excellent program. In the previous posts a lot of you gave your feedback as to what you expect out of Junior Firemen. It wasn't much.
Let me take a minute to describe the Junior Fireman Program that I was a part of and what my roles were both at the firehouse and fireground.
Must be between the ages of 15-18
Maintain a GPA of 2.5 or a C+ average
eligibilty slips turned in to officer first drill of every month. If you didn't meet the requirement you couldn't respond or attend any fire department function until the first of next month when you turned in your slip. Yes the rules were tough but a good incentive both for school and the fire department.
Attend 75% of annual training meetings and drills.
Can participate in same bi-weekly training as firemen with approval from Duty Officer.
Issued a full set of turnout gear. Badge number, uniform and our helmet shields were bright orange to indentify us as JF on the fireground.
Role at the Firehouse:
NOTE: JF could only be there for day tours (8am to 6pm) But could respond at anytime.
If you volunteered to work a tour you would
assist firemen during the tour whether it be house chores, cleaning the apparatus bay and the apparatus, sometimes even cooking. You are treated just as everyone else. If you want to eat, you pitch in five bucks. It is up to both the Chauffer and the Officer to allow you to ride. In order to ride you are tested by the Chauffer on what the equipment is on the rig what compartment it is stored in and it's primary use. This was something that you had to memorise for all apparatus. LEARNING
Role at the fireground:
NOTE: The JF is only allowed to respond when a box is struck. Unless ofcourse the JF is already at the firehouse then it is up to the descretion of the Company Officer and Chauffer as mentioned above. Juniors were seen as members and went on MVA's, HazMat, Water Rescue and various Public Assistance calls. The officer would always find something for you to do.
Assist Chauffer with the hydrant hookup. The JF always rides behind Chauffer. LEARNING
Assist firemen with what ever they needed i.e. getting tools from the apparatus (After informing the Chauffer you are about to do so!) LEARNING
Set up staging area for the job with tarps and extra tools and SCBA Bottles. LEARNING
Man the Air/Light Truck by changing/filling SCBA bottles and assisting the Ladder Company with running reels and setting up lights. LEARNING
No Junior Fireman was allowed into a fire building or be allowed into the Hot Zone of a HazMat worker.
Mop Up/Take up duties. This is really when the JF worked. Repacking hose on the pumper all the while LEARNING how to do it... Correctly! Back at the firehouse: Cleaning tools, Masks, washing the apparatus to put it back in service and hanging hose in the tower.
After what you just read, do you see a common theme here? LEARNING. Be patient with your Junior Firemen. They are there to learn and assist us because they are interested in doing what we do. We are there to teach them. Not to mention Juniors are great targets for firehouse pranks. "Hey Junior, Go get me a left handed axe"... I only fell for that once!
I'm glad I could share with you what my Junior Fireman Program was like. I really learned a lot from it. To sum this up I guess my question would be for all of you is "If you have a Junior Fireman program what are their roles and what do they do?"
Those of you whose departments are considering starting Junior Fireman Progam feel free to e-mail me and I would be glad to offer any help in development of such a program.