Monday, January 27th, 2014, The St. Stephens Fire Department Explorer post #4 was nominated and awarded the 2013 Explorer Post of the year through the Boy Scouts of America Piedmont Council. The award was presented at the annual Exploring banquet which was held at Cleveland Community College. The award was presented to the Explorers by President Dr. Steve Thornburg and the Piedmont council representative Richard Churn. St. Stephens Members and Explorers in attendance to retrieve the award were Josh Randolph, Jamie McCoy, Mason Baker, Troy Storti, and Larry Storti. We would like to thank all those that were involved with this project and accomplishment! We would also like to thank all the parents that allow the members of St. Stephens Fire Department the opportunity to educate their child in the fire service and to be a part of one of the most important times in the lives of the young adult as they are at the point of their life to start thinking about or making a career choice.
St. Stephens Fire Department members assist in the recruitment and instruction of young men and women ages 14-18 that make up the Exploring Post program. The Exploring program is conducted through the Boy Scouts and is sponsored by St. Stephens Fire Department. The advisors include parents of the Explorers and some members of St. Stephens Fire Department. The Exploring program is a part of the Boy Scouts of America and is a learning for life career education program for young adults. The purpose of the program is to provide experiences to help young people mature and prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. Explorers are ready to explore the meaning of interdependence in their personal relationships and in their communities. The result of the program is activities that help youth grow and develop to pursue their special interests. The Exploring program is based upon the following areas of emphasis; career opportunities, life skills, service learning, character education, and leadership experience. The Exploring program at St. Stephens Fire Department provides an early education of the basics in the fire service and an orientation of the fire service career.
St. Stephens Fire Department Explorer Post #4 was established in 2004. At that time we had a total of twelve Explorers which is considered a full roster and we then had to prepare a waiting list for the young adults that were interested in becoming an Explorer. Nearly every year since the beginning of the program we have had a full roster with a waiting list. We have had nearly fifty young adults to attend the Exploring program and we have an average of seventy-five documented training hours per each explorer every year. St. Stephens Fire Department has assisted with establishing three Exploring Post programs within the county for other departments. At the age of eighteen, five Explorers from the program have been added to the St. Stephens Fire Department roster as a firefighter. Six previous explorers from the program have become volunteer firefighters in other fire departments, two previous explorers have become career firefighters with local municipalities, two are involved with local rescue squads, four have become involved in emergency services through the local EMS as paramedics, and two have went on to serve our country in the military. We are extremely proud of each and every one of them and their accomplishments!
The explorers have been involved with several community projects. The Explorer post of St. Stephens Fire Department established an address sign program to assist community members with improved markings of their home address in order to assist emergency services with a better response time in getting the proper help to the correct location in a timely efficient manner. The Explorers have been involved with several smoke detector blitzes throughout the community. This activity was in conjunction with Hickory Fire to help educate and save hundreds of lives by installing working smoke detectors in the homes. The Explorer post has visited over 200 homes. The Exploring program has also been involved with the Bikes for Tikes program for the past several years near the Christmas Holiday. The Explorers have assisted with the assembly of 100 bikes each year to give to those children that are less fortunate. This program is also in conjunction with Hickory fire and is sponsored through the Salvation Army. The young adults in the Exploring program have been involved with prevention and education programs in our local schools. The St. Stephens Fire district has a total of four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school in our fire protection area in which these programs are conducted. We also have several child care facilities that we visit for fire safety programs. The Explorers have participated in job shadowing, internships, and ride along programs at St. Stephens Fire Department which allow them to gain firsthand experience in the fire service as a career choice. The Explorers have become involved with recruitment projects for St. Stephens Fire Department. Due to the training and activities that the Explorers are involved with, some of the parents have become interested and involved with the St. Stephens Fire Exploring program.
The Explorers participate in training with our firefighters on Tuesday nights as well as conducting their own training/meeting nights. November 12th, 2013 members of the St. Stephens Fire Department conducted a training evolution on the Pittsburg Drill with the explorers which educated them on familiarization with several aspects of the fire service including; communication, team work and air consumption. The Pittsburg Drill was developed to force firefighters to work as a team. If anyone in the four firefighter group does not participate or communicate properly; the entire team will fail. The obstacle course that is set up is 50 feet in length and has a total of three “props”. The first is a “low profile”, the second is an “A” frame and the third is a ten – twelve foot tube. The low profile is a very small opening simulating a 16” on center studded wall that a firefighter may be forced to breach in an emergency. The “A” frame is simply a small elevated structure that is the shape of an “A”. Finally, the tube is simply a plastic or metal tube, approx. eight – ten feet long that the firefighter has to crawl through. Firefighters stretch a charged section of 1 ½” hose through all three obstacles to a victim at the end of the obstacle course, which also has on turnout gear and an air-pack. Each team of four firefighters gets a maximum of twenty minutes to get through all three obstacles, find and retrieve the victim, and take the victim back through the obstacle course back to the starting point. Firefighters can either be “blacked out” meaning their visibility is zero as in a live fire situation or their sight can be unrestricted. The course challenges several components of the firefighters and it a great hands on training scenario. This training exercise is just one example of the many training exercises that are conducted by the exploring program. If there is any interest in the St. Stephens Fire Department Exploring program please contact Josh Randolph at St. Stephens Fire Department 828-256-2375 or e-mail at Jrandolph@ssvfd4.org