By Jerry Presta, Nassau County Junior Firefighters Association Chairman
During the last week of July, 45 junior firefighters and Explorers from 22 different fire companies participated in the second annual Nassau Juniors Fire Camp Fahrenheit 516. The annual event is designed to give participants a hands-on experience with the same training that “probies” go through.
The camp program was designed by the Nassau County Junior Firefighters Association Board of Directors and the Nassau County Fire Service Academy (FSA) instructors, including FSA Chief Instructor Robert V. Hughes, Jr., and FSA Assistant Chief Instructor Paul Wilders. They started by taking feedback from the previous year’s camp and making changes to the 2015 itinerary. Four new evolutions were added, consisting of Second Story Bailout, Hydraulic Extrication, Aerial Ladders, and Roof Operations. Other courses included Mask Confidence, Search and Rescue, Emergency Evacuation Procedures, Ground Ladders, Class A & B Fire Extinguisher Drills, Two Minute Drills, Rope, Forcible Entry, Car Fires, and Warehouse Fires.
The main goal of the camp was to give youth something they wouldn’t get anywhere else. All expectations were exceeded by the second day. One of the highlights was live streaming of selected evolutions and classroom sessions almost 4,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Korb, Germany, where a group of junior firefighters watched from their training room. Some of the Nassau County juniors had connected with the German program through the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) National Junior Firefighter Program, and they were very interested in the camp from watching last year’s video.
Coordinating the streaming was quite a challenge due to weather, internet signal limitations, and the six hour time difference. However, working together with the Nassau Board of Directors, Vocational Education and Extension Board (VEEB), and the FSA Facilities Operation Division, the Korb junior firefighters were able to watch the Extinguisher, Bailout, Warehouse, and Car Fires drills and also have a quick conversation with the Nassau juniors on the first day of the camp. A total of 349 people viewed the training that week - 230 from the US, 106 from Germany, six from Canada, three from Sweden, and one from Norway.
From 9am to 4pm for five straight days, students received the most intense training the camp could offer. On Friday night, the students attended their graduation, where members and Chiefs from all of the participating departments joined them at the Nassau County Legislative Chambers. At the event, Chief Hughes and Chief Fire Marshal Scott Tusa presented them with certificates from the FSA and County Executive Edward Mangano. The NVFC sent backpacks and cooler bags as gifts to all the participants of the camp.
With new ideas for next year already in the works, the camp will continue to make improvements and move things around as necessary to provide the best training for these youth. This training event was the result of efforts from a lot of different people. The camp would like to thank the FSA and the entire VEEB Board, not only for their contributions to the camp, but for their constant support of the juniors and Explorers in Nassau County. Special gratitude also goes to the Nassau County fire departments and firematic organizations that helped sponsor the camp; if not for their continuous and generous support the camp’s success would not have been possible.