On Friday, representatives from the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund and 1-800-BoardUp delivered 12 sets of turnout gear — pants, jacket, helmet and boots — from Connecticut to BCFD Station 1.
“The cost of purchasing new equipment would have been approximately $2,000 per person,” said BCFD Division Chief of Training & Special Operations Dwayne Jamison. “We would normally issue the Explorers used gear since they are not going to be involved in interior firefighting. However, we have a very limited supply of used gear for the department due to annual budget cuts over the past few years. We only purchase what gear is necessary to allow our personnel to safely do their jobs. This is a great opportunity for our Explorers to enable them to participate in these activities.”
Explorers is a program offered through the Boy Scouts of America that is open to youth ages 14 to 20.
The fire department Explorers are trained in basic firefighting techniques, first aid and CPR, Jamison said. They assist with non-emergency operations, fire safety education, traffic control and other events.
Through the donation, members will be able to participate in hands-on training exercises and compete in the area Northwest Georgia Fire Chiefs Association Firefighter and Explorer competitions held around the area.
For Terry Farrell Georgia Chapter Member Mike Korsch, the donation carries on the traditions of the fire service and prepares for the agency’s future.
“We’re all firefighters ourselves. I was a volunteer firefighter up on Long Island. I was also a New York City detective. You’ve got to understand the structure up there — most of you volunteer firemen are also cops ... That’s all we have that protect that area out there,” he said. “... It’s a tradition for me, it’s a tradition for everyone in the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund around the nation.
“It’s the future of the fire service. To train these young children and young adults at an early stage gives them an interest to go into the fire service. Kids today are into their cellphones, so today we have to find different avenues to keep them interested in the fire service.”
“I started when I was 13. A lot of the guys here started as junior volunteer firefighters back when we had that program years ago,” he said. “... Now through the Explorer program we can do a lot of what we did back then without the live fire training and stuff obviously, but that will help foster interest from the younger kids, hopefully keep them out of trouble, teach them more than just firefighting skills, teach them about ethics and morals and little things other than just the firefighting side of things.”
Working with 1-800-BoardUp, Jamison said BCFD was able to get the needed gear quickly.
“We told [Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund] what we needed to get our program up and running, and within a couple weeks, they had the gear together they had everything we needed to get up and going.”
Although the department had a similar junior volunteer program in the past, the creation of an Explorers post is a first for the fire department.
“This is something we have wanted to be involved with for several years, but we didn’t have enough volunteer adult advisors in the department to get the post started. I am proud to say that we have a total of seven adult advisors today that were willing to volunteer their time to this program to make it happen,” Jamison said.
To be eligible for the BCFD Explorers, youth must be ages 14 to 20 and have completed eighth grade.
“We have strict rules concerning maintaining a high GPA in school. We will train them to assist with special events, non-emergency operations and assist with fire safety education presentations,” Jamison said. “They will be allowed to ‘ride along’ with the battalion chiefs to get a feel for what we do. They may also be utilized in support roles such as traffic control, rehab to fire crews, and assisting with equipment on emergency scenes from a safe location.
“The post members get to learn about the fire service and what we do. It allows them to make an informed career decision if they believe this is something they want to pursue. It allows the department to train and utilize interested young people in support roles that free up our personnel for emergency operations. It will also help develop future firefighters for the department.”
With 14 chapters across the country, the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund was established in memory of a New York Fire Department firefighter who died in Tower Two on Sept. 11.
For more on the BCFD Explorers, contact Jamison at 770-387-5151. For more on the firefighters fund, visit www.terryfund.org.