To apply for the Junior Firefighter Program, visit the Sorghum Airport Volunteer Fire Department website at airportsorghofd.com.
The Sorghum Airport Volunteer Fire Department is setting up a junior firefighter program, with the aim of attracting young people to the volunteer fire department.
The program, which accepts applications, aims to train teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17, so that they have almost all the training they need to become certified volunteer firefighters when they become adults.
“It’s primarily an educational program,” said Captain Dustin Stavers, who coordinates the program. “We’re looking for people who live in the western part of the county,” especially students who attend Catholic High Schools in Owensboro and Apollo.
After completing the program, “when they reach the age of 18, they will be eligible to be a facilitator,” Stavers said.
Service chief Pat Thompson said the hope is that teens who complete the program will be inspired to become members of the fire department. The number of adults joining volunteer fire departments has declined, Thompson said.
âWe would normally have 32 firefighters, and now we have 24,â said Thompson. âThis is just a national downward trend in the number of volunteer firefighters across the country. “
Thompson said there are about three dozen junior programs across the state. The programs are regulated by the Kentucky Fire Commission.
The state prohibits junior firefighters from actively fighting fires or participating with regular firefighters in emergency calls. State regulations state that junior firefighters may not be involved in any firefighter activity that would be considered “immediately dangerous to life and health”, operate power tools and hydraulic equipment, direct traffic or ride on ladders on the premises.
But the program will give junior firefighters training in most aspects of firefighting, where students who complete the program will have nearly every 150 hours of training needed to be a state-certified firefighter, Thompson said. .
The training “will be a combination of classroom training and hands-on training,” said Thompson. Teens will take training courses with the station’s firefighters and train on their own with instructors. While junior firefighters are prohibited from traveling to the scene in their own vehicles, members driven to the scene by a parent may assist at the scene of a fire, provided the duties are performed outside of the house. area considered dangerous to life and health.
Junior firefighters would be supervised by fire department personnel at the scene, Thompson said.
âEach volunteer in the state of Kentucky must have 150 hours to be a certified firefighter,â Staves said. “Any training they do will go around those 150 hours.”
Participants “could pursue a career in EMS (emergency medical services) or in fire,” Staves said.
While the Airport-Sorghum station is particularly looking for teens living in West Daviess County who may eventually join the station, the program is open to teens from across the county.
Sorghum airport officials will hold an organizational meeting in January to answer questions from adolescents and parents. The department hopes that teens who complete the Junior Firefighter Program will be delighted to stay with the department into adulthood.
âI know in our department we have several kids who grew up with firefighters,â and trained with their parents as firefighters, Thompson said. “I would say a large majority of them stay as firefighters into adulthood.”