Youth tackle fire training

Elisabeth Nardi DAILY HERALD

Training will soon begin for some of the youngest firefighters in the county.

The Cedar Fort Fire Department is starting a new program next month called Junior Fire Fighters, where kids ages 12 to 18 can learn how to be firefighters.

Once the youngsters join, they will be responsible for training with the department once a week and will have training every two weeks specifically
geared toward them, said Fire Chief Mike Penovich.

While they won't be out fighting actual fires, they will be learning a lot about fire prevention, CPR, basic first aid and fire equipment, Penovich said. In the process, Penovich hopes they may be training future department volunteers.

"We hope to get them trained and then roll them right into the fire department when they are 18," he said.

The program begins in the middle of March and is already filled to capacity with 12 kids signed up, he said. But if some kids drop out or miss more than two training sessions, he will let others take their place.

"I think the kids out here want to learn because what kid doesn't want to be a fireman?" he said.

He got the idea to start a program because three sons of the volunteer firefighters already attend department training and would end up doing more work than the firefighters, he said.

"We noticed they were doing the bulk of the work, and in my mind ... if they are with us they are not getting in trouble and each of them have some real interest," he said.

He also hopes that teaching kids in the community will help to spread word-of-mouth to other kids about fire prevention. Until last month, there hadn't been many problems with kids and fire in the Cedar Fort area, but then a 9-year-old playing with matches started a house fire, he said. Penovich thinks if kids tell other kids about fire prevention, it can help reduce fires.

"The more aware you are, the less possibility that it will happen -- and kids want to learn," he said.

Assistant Fire Chief Jed Berry's 11-year-old son Brock has been helping for two years, and Berry said he thinks starting a program is a great idea. He said Brock started coming along just because he's always liked firemen.

"Yeah, he got an interest I think just seeing his dad doing it; he got really enthused about it," Berry said.