Clint Oldehoeft and Jacob Miller
Georgia Meyer and Jacob Miller
Jackson Beethe and Jacob Miller
Jaiden Papik and Jacob Miller
Participants and volunteers at the Exeter Junior Fire Patrol are pictured front row from the left: Georgia Meyer, Jaiden Papik, Jackson Beethe, Clint Oldehoeft. Back row from the left are: Marv Swanson, Hope Androyna, Dan Everheart, Jacob Miller, Mark Beethe, Jackie Miller, Ken Strate and Ed Mark.
After the graduation ceremony the Exeter Junior Fire Patrol participants headed out for a ride in the fire truck and a chance to spray some more water from the truck fire cannon. They are pictured from the left: Jackson Beethe, Clint Oldehoeft, Jaiden Papik and Georgia Meyer.
Every October the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department hosts a Junior Fire Patrol classes during Fire Safety Month.
Part education and part training, the fifth graders from Exeter Milligan love the program. “They’re learning valuable life skills for not only now, but when they have families of their own. It’s a fun class but at the end of the day I want them to remember this could actually save someone in their families lives,” explained lead instructor Hope Androyna.
This is the fifteenth year that the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department has sponsored the Junior Fire Patrol for area fifth graders. This year there were four participants.
The fire department hosts the program at the Exeter Fire Hall and attendance is required for all four sessions to become a junior fire marshall. During the sessions the students plan a fire escape plan individualized to their home, learn about fire hazards in the home, learn burn prevention and first aid, and how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire.
Androyna notes that the “hardest lesson they have to get is that you never go back into a burning home and get something valuable, no matter if it’s a pet or a favorite toy. That is my least favorite part of teaching these classes – exposing the kids to the reality of mortality in fires.”
This year Androyna was able to find some new updated videos to share with the students, “We were able to purchase some new videos. The one that has the most impact even on adults shows how an entire room can go up in flames in three minutes from a burning candle. It shows a heat thermometer at the same time.”
Another important lesson the kids learn is about the damage that arson causes and how to prevent fires inside and outside. Exeter Volunteer Fire Department member Ed Mark designed the program in 1998 to keep the students and the community safe. Mark researched educational materials and designed the program for the Fire Department to approve. He serves as the Chairman of the Junior Fire Patrol project and, "We wanted to help teach the kids more fire safety so we could save some lives. . .who knows what value it will have in their future lives."
The students are required to attend every one of the four sessions and perform each assignment if they want to achieve the rank of junior fire marshal. Some of the assignments include fun, like running the water hoses on the department trucks, while others, like crawling through a room full of artificial smoke, are a much greater challenge.
“This class went fast. These kids were a very attentive and a very bright class. They knew a lot about the department and since it was a smaller class we had the opportunity to do some different things like working with an interactive fire extinguisher with Deputy Fire Marshall Ray Nance,” explained Androyna.
The last few years they have begun to teach the kids CPR “We can’t certify them but they are getting the same training the squad does minus a few equipment trainings. It’s a life-saving skill,” explained Androyna.
If the students pass the final written exam, attend all the meetings and complete the other requirements then they become a junior fire marshal of the Exeter Fire Department.
After so many years of watching students take the junior fire patrol course Mark is still amazed at the fifth graders, "Every year they grab the information. The intensity level is amazing. They just want to learn. We have great kids every year."
The department received a donation from Sam’s Club to purchase snacks for the different nights and Casey’s supplied pizza for the graduation celebration.
Three of the students had perfect attendance and passed all of the requirements to become junior fire marshals. They are Jaiden Papik, Jackson Beethe and Georgia Meyer. All three of these students have a parent who serves on the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department.
The department is now seeing a side benefit to the program that wasn’t realized for a number of years, as several Junior Fire Marshalls have become active members of the Exeter department. One, Jacob Miller, now serve as assistant fire chief.
Hope Androyna served as the lead instructor this year. Many other members of the department served as instructors and volunteers throughout the four weeks including Ed Mark, Jacob Miller, Jackie Miller, Marv Swanson, Dan Everheart, Ken Strate, Mark Beethe, Doug Papik, Craig Meyer, Nate Kahler.