Pa. Junior Firefighter Critical Afer Training Mishap

A junior firefighter with the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company was critically injured after a training mishap Monday night.

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The unidentified 16-year-old junior firefighter sustained first-, second-, and third-degree burns when a brush pile was doused in gasoline and lit on fire as part of the exercise on Sept. 17, WBRE-TV reported on Friday.

The training exercise on Mountain Spring Drive was meant to teach new members how to operate nozzles and other equipment, Jackson Township Fire Chief Lester Wolcott told the news station.

A controlled burn set as part of the exercise quickly got out of control after 2.5 gallon can of gasoline was use to start the fire.

"They were gonna use a little bit of gas and it was just a little too much gas," the chief said.

There was a sudden flash and the injured junior firefighter apparently was not wearing his turnout jacket properly, causing him to suffer burns on his arm, neck and shoulder.

He was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

Wolcott said that he and the assistant fire chief were not present at the time of the incident, but that a junior officer was handling the exercise.

State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann told the news station that certified instructors are supposed to oversee junior trainees during burns and that since gas was used, it's unlikely that one was there.

"Gas is just absolutely too volatile to be used as an accelerant with anything," he said. "Do not use it period. I do not care the amount."

The State Fire Commissioner's Office, Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall, Department of Labor and the fire company are currently investigating the incident.

"We are gonna do a full internal investigation to try to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and try to get to the bottom of it, get it so it never happens again,"

Fire company officials are unsure if the department's worker's compensation plan will cover the junior firefighter's medical bills.