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National Junior Firefighter Academy a great Baltimore success story

Published on 9 August 2010
The firefighter program provides umbrella for junior firefighters of the fire service industry
The junior firefighter program is open to all youths aged between 13 and 18

The National Junior Firefighter Program serves as an umbrella program  for junior firefighter schemes nationwide to promote youth participation within the fire and emergency services community.

The National Volunteer Fire Council's (NVFC) National Junior Firefighter Program, in partnership with Spartan Motors, Inc., California Casualty, and Firehouse Expo, presented the inaugural National Junior Firefighter Academy on July 24 as part of Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, MD. The Academy, which was held from 9am-12pm, consisted of two sessions that ran concurrently - one junior firefighters and one for advisors. A lunch reception was held afterwards, courtesy of MSA.

"The National Junior Firefighter Academy brought together a wide range of youth and adult members of the fire service interested in building and strengthening their department's junior firefighter program," said Rachel Higginbotham, NVFC Director of the National Junior Firefighter Program. "The feedback we have received from the attendees has been very positive. We are pleased at the success of this inaugural Academy and grateful to our sponsors for supporting this important initiative."

Dozens of youth from the mid-Atlantic area attended the junior firefighter session, which was open to children aged 13-18. Presentations included:

  • 2010 National Junior Firefighter of the Year Michelle Carilli of the Coventry (CT) Volunteer Fire Association and Jay Stanton, junior firefighter at Elkridge (MD) Volunteer Fire Department, leading a youth leadership panel in which junior firefighters shared ideas and best practices from their own programs and departments.
  • Mike Barnett, Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department Junior Firefighter Program Coordinator, sharing activity ideas.
  • NVFC Director of Government Relations Dave Finger presenting information on how the youth can get involved in fire service legislation.
  • Bob Timko, NVFC Executive Committee member, and Steve Carter, University of Maryland-University College Academic Director of Emergency Management, Fire Science, and Homeland Security, leading sessions on future career and educational paths in fire science. Higginbotham provided an overview of the Program and its history.

Topics related to career and educational paths in fire industry were discussed at the academy      

Over thirty program advisors, chiefs, and parents of junior firefighters took part in the Academy. Attendees of the adult session learned about the following topics:

  • Heather Schafer, NVFC Executive Director, provided an overview of the Program and its history and highlighted the resources for departments.
  • Barnett presented information on building youth leaders as well as activity ideas for advisors to take back to their own departments.
  • Timko led a session on applying for grants to fund youth programs.
  • Finger instructed advisors on how to get their youth involved in the legislative process and the importance of educating the future of the fire service on legislative issues that pertain to the fire service.

Timko, who began his time in the fire service as a junior firefighter, said the knowledge provided at the Academy assists departments with setting goals for what each program wants to accomplish. "They get to hear from experienced leaders and connect with other programs from across the country," he said.

The National Junior Firefighter Program serves as an umbrella for junior firefighter programs nationwide to promote youth participation within the fire and emergency services community. In addition, youth can use the program to locate a local junior firefighter program, keep track of their hours of service, and learn what it means to be a firefighter. The National Junior Firefighter Program promotes the future of the fire service by encouraging youth to form a connection with their emergency service department so that hopefully as adults they will either join the fire service or become a community supporter of the fire service. The National Junior Firefighter Program is part of the National Volunteer Fire Council and supported by Spartan Motors, Inc. and Tyco International. Find out more about the National Junior Firefighter Program at the following link.

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