New Castle News

April 14, 2012

Firefighters explain work to students

David Burcham
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Members of the Law Enforcement Club at Wilmington High School were treated to a hands-on display by firefighters Thursday.

Dozens of club members and other interested students had an opportunity to examine and operate equipment during a 45-minute demonstration by the New Wilmington, Pulaski and Volant fire departments.

Tom Swihart, security officer at the high school, said the first-year club has about 50 members, and members attend monthly programs given by various agencies. Thursday, the spotlight was on the fire departments and like always, they responded.

“The idea is to show students there are opportunities for them to become involved by volunteering with area fire departments,” said Swihart, a retired state trooper.

Each of the company’s fire chiefs — Guy Morse from Pulaski, Gary Wagner from New Wilmington, Jeff Parish of Volant — spoke to the group, indicating their interest in recruiting students 14 and over to become junior members of their departments.

Four fire engines, including one exclusively used to fight brush fires, were on display outside the school.

Swihart said although it was a club event, other students were permitted to take part if they desired.

Demonstrations included setting up the hoses, using heat-seeking cameras that detect and locate hot spots during a fire, and using the jaws of life

Chris Cassano, who teaches biology, forensics and physics at the high school, also took part in the presentation.

“It’s a basic introduction to get the kids familiar with the equipment,” Swihart said. Permission slips and brochures were sent home with students who expressed a desire to know more. Parents are invited to take them to the fire department in their community to tour the facility and speak with firefighters.

Swihart said boys and girls 14 and older can legally become juniors members of the fire department according to state law.

“They will be given an opportunity to work in the firehouse be evaluated for future responsibilities,” Swihart said. “They will do things like cleaning trucks and hoses and various tasks.

Swihart said he was hopeful that some sort of accreditation can be given to students who participate in the program.

“The chiefs indicated young people are needed and will be welcomed.”

(Email: d_burcham@ncnewsonline.com)