Training the next generation

Published 8:07 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Not many programs will give students a strong start in a potential career.

The Explorer post attached to the Clark County Fire Department has already seen seven former members join the service full time.

“We teach them the career,” Clark County firefighter and Explorer advisor Kevin Osborne said. “They receive the same training we get. The only things they can’t do are drive the truck and go in burning buildings.”

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The Explorer program is part of the Boy Scouts of America, though it is open to girls, and is focused on older teens and potential careers.

Osborne started working with the Clark County Firefighters Association’s Explorer post in 2010. A former youth softball coach, Osborne said he likes helping guide younger people and prepare the next generation for life as an adult.

“A lot of kids don’t like sports,” he said. “There’s not a lot we can do for youth. With this, once they get involved, it gives them a sense of direction. Some have told me if it wasn’t for this program, they didn’t know what path they’d take.”

Students can join the Explorers (the Winchester Police Department also has an Explorer post) at age 14. If they stick with the fire department program, they can acquire most of the required training hours to be a certified firefighter.

“If they start at 14, by the time they’re 18 they’re almost at 400 hours,” Osborne said. “They have a big jump on a career before they are old enough to do the career.”

Once they complete 150 hours, they can start as a part-time firefighter, he said. Training after that counts toward their 400 required hours.

The post meets once a week for about three hours, he said. Classes can cover everything within the fire service, including truck and pump operations.

“They love doing searches,” Osborne said. “We’ll move the truck out (of the station) and use a smoke machine to fill the station. They’re really into technical rescue, rope rescue and tying knots.

“They get to do the pump operations and operate the truck. they get to feel what it is like to be on a hose line.”

Presently, Osborne said he has eight active Explorers and three others who are interested. The post is preparing for its first trip to the national Winterfest competition in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in early 2018. Once there, the Explorers will compete in practical and written tests of their skills.

“This will be the first group we’ve had that’s shown enough interest to go,” he said. “Everyone that worked up for it can go.”

Osborne is just excited to see students’ interest in the profession and in seeing them mature and grow into adults.

“It’s actually very rewarding,” he said. “Just being able to help a young adult learn to make their own decisions … and make the right decision.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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