Fire department recruits youth
July 22, 2020
By CHARITY SMITH
The department is holding a series of firefighting training demonstrations for its cadets, ages 14 to 18. The next session is set for Aug. 5 at 5 p.m., and will feature a demonstration of firefighting techniques as well as a question and answer session.
Cadets meet once a week for about 2 to 4 hours to train to become firefighters. Cadets who complete the program are able to take a test and receive firefighter certification at age 16 and, once they turn 18, are able to become a firefighter, according to cadet training supervisor Danielle Holz.
The program started in October, and is open to those 14-18, who reside anywhere in Gogebic County, said Holz. It's a year-round program. The meetings are usually on Mondays during the summer and Wednesdays during the school year, so as not to interfere with sports programs.
Cadets learn about the necessary personal protective equipment, such as a self-contained breathing apparatus, including how to put it on and take it off, put it together and take apart, and how to properly wash it. They also learn about search and rescue techniques, said Holz.
"The experience I had was fun and challenging. Challenging because you are learning and acquiring these new skills that you will use at a fire scene. Sometimes it's hard but that is what makes it fun," said Alice Sturkol, 17, a junior cadet from Wakefield.
Holz said cadets also participate in fundraising efforts for the program, shovel snow for the elderly, and help with other service projects. They are also able to help participate at the scene of a fire, under the supervision of a trained firefighter, although if they are under the age of 16, Holz said they are kept in the "cold zone," or away from the dangerous areas on scene.
Cadets are trained by firefighters from not only Marenisco, but also other fire departments in the county. Holz said the fire chiefs usually stop by to help run the kids though their paces.
Holz said the program was created to help with the national shortage of volunteer firefighters. She said that since the early 2000s the number of volunteer firefighters has declined by 50% and volunteer fire departments across the country are hungry for new recruits.
Sturkol said she took a leap of faith when she signed up for the Junior Cadets, and she is glad she did. She said that being a part of the team is something great and she likes spending time with her team members and going through the "challenges" with them.
This year's recruits will test soon, Holz said, and that will determine who among them becomes captain and lieutenant, and help train next year's recruits.
For more information on the Junior Cadet program, call Holz at 906-364-4114 or email her at [email protected]