Like many fire departments, the K.B.F.P.D. has a Fire Explorer program. For those of unfamiliar with the explorer concept, Exploring is a program that exposes young people, ages 14-20, to various career fields and allows them to do some hands on training with people and organizations in that given field.
Exploring used to be a part of Scouting before being spun off some time ago. It is now administered through Learning for Life , a non-profit organization based in Irving, Texas. Exploring has areas of study that include the fire service, law enforcement, aviation, the legal system, business, communications, the arts and engineering to name a few. They also work on building character and good citizenship.
My agency sponsors a post and several members of the district have volunteered to serve as advisers. They meet once a week at a station and take field trips to the tower and to off site areas to drill. After an explorer has completed a specified amount of training, they are allowed to ride along with a unit for a 12 hour shift each quarter. They live for the ride-a-longs.
Here, a couple of explorers practice cutting ventilation holes on the roof of a building. How many 15-16 year olds can say they got to go up on a roof and cut holes in it with an axe?
Like any organization, you can tell that some kids are really into it and will likely succeed in obtaining a career in the fire service. Others not so much. The latter group are steered towards the Police Explorer Program. (just kidding)
Other kids might not think firefighting is for them now, but the exposure will plant a seed that can be nurtured later.
This young lady is receiving guidance on hose stream handling from one of our engineers. Again, this is something that not many people will ever get to do.
Our agency has numerous members that participated in Fire Explorer programs in their youth and received a good foundation for their future careers. There are also fire departments who use the Explorer program as a recruiting tool and to develop future firefighters for their department.
I support the program as I feel that it is a way to expose kids to a career who normally might not consider one in the fire service. It allows them to see the gig, the culture involved and the requirements to succeed. Frankly, I feel it is a far batter path to diversity than court mandates and quotas.
Thanks goodness the Explorer program costs the district little if anything, so it should be spared from the budget axe. I hope that it is continued for a long, long time.
Thanks for reading,
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