By Anne Eickstadt


Lt. Dan Drall of the Belvidere Fire Dept. teaches Explorers how to handle the fire hose.

The Fire Explorer program was created to give high school age kids the opportunity to train as firefighters before they are eligible to become firefighters. It is intended to let them see if firefighting is a field that they would be happy in.

The program is designed to allow male and female youth, between the ages of 14 and 20, to explore a career in the fire service. The training program is intense and demanding, however the rewards are increased character and the understanding of what it takes to pursue a career in the fire service.

They receive the same training that firefighters receive so they can have realistic experience. In Boone County, Explorers come from two different high schools. Kids come from other districts as well so they form bonds that they otherwise would not have. They wouldn’t know each other from anything other than competing against the other’s school.

All the firefighters and EMS personnel here are willing to work with the Explorers and help with homework, discuss issues, and chat with them to help make them the best people they can be.

Boone County Fire Explorers are trained well enough that some kids can, and have, been hired straight out of the program.

Tuesday, July 20, said BFD Cpt. Chad Cunningham, “We went over how to hook up to a hydrant and send water to the ladder truck, went over the different tools used, when and why we hook to a hydrant, different sized hoses that can be used, how to flush (clean out) the hydrant, and how to properly disconnect it from the ladder and hydrant. 

“We went over hose line advancement, the proper way to stand while flowing water, different streams used (fog/straight stream), different sized hoses used and when to use them, and the different nozzles used (smooth bore/ combination).

“We taught the explorers Ladder operations. That includes how to set it up, the limitations of the ladder, what tools are on it, when it would be used, and how to work the controls in the bucket and on the platform.”

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