- Exeter Volunteer Fire Department Junior Fire Patrol graduating class included (back row, left to right): Volunteer Marv Swanson, Ben Bartu, Braden Capek, Christopher Kelch, Katelyn Babula, Olivea Swanson and Volunteer Ed Mark. Front row from the left are Volunteer Richard Erdkamp, Kole Svec, Casey Underwood and Volunteer Hope Strate.
Volunteer Marv Swanson opens the door and shines a flashlight as Christopher Kelch crawls through a simulated smoked filled room.
Braden Capek tries on the breathing apparatus at the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department Junior Fire Patrol. Watching him on the right are Kole Svec and Casey Underwood (far right).
These sixth graders let their buddy Ben Bartu try on the fire gear first. From the left are Braden Capek, Bartu, Kole Svec and Casey Underwood.
Every fall the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department hosts a Junior Fire Patrol classes during Fire Safety Month.
Part education and part training, the fifth and sixth 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 co-instructor Hope Strate.
This is the sixteenth time that the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department has sponsored the Junior Fire Patrol for area students. This year was the first time the class started it’s biannual rotation including fifth and sixth graders.
The fire department hosts the program at the Exeter Fire Hall and started in September this year so that colder weather could be avoided for the outdoor activities. During the sessions the students develop a fire escape plan individualized to their home, learn about fire hazards in the home, learn burn prevention and first aid, they experience using a fire extinguisher to put out a fire along with the opportunity to aim a fire hose and shoot the water cannons on one of the trucks.
An 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 and co-instructor with Strate.
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 are 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.
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 students, "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 of pizza from Casey’s for the graduation celebration on Monday, October 7.
Three of the students had perfect attendance and passed all of the requirements to become junior fire marshals. They were Olivea Swanson, Braden Capek and Ben Bartu. Others in the class were Kole Svec, Casey Underwood, Christopher Kelch, and Katelyn Babula.
The department has seen benefits that weren’t realized for a few years. Mark noted, “The seeds of long ago are growing to continue helping our community prosper.”
Several active members of the fire department were graduates of the Junior Fire Patrol program.