PLATTEVILLE — It’s either an introduction to firefighting, or an opportuity to recruit future firefighters, in Platteville or elsewhere.
The Platteville Fire Department is starting an Exploring post for high school students interested in learning more about the fire service.
A recruiting meeting will be held at the Platteville Fire Department Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. The post will meet the first and third Thursdays of the month from 7 to 9 p.m.
Fire Capt. Jason Fiedler will be the post advisor. Third Assistant Chief Tom Covert will be the liaison between the Exploring post and the Fire Department.
“It’s not naturally a recruitment tool,” said Covert. “It’s something to get kids involved in Platteville and give back to the community of Platteville, and have a good time. It’s going to allow somebody to be a firefighter wherever they go.”
Fiedler said Fire Chief Dave Izzard “wanted to do one five, six years ago, and he never had time, so he said if you want to pursue it, it’s yours. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do.”
Exploring is a career-development part of the Boy Scouts of America, but posts are open to males and females ages 14 to 21 who have at least completed eighth grade. Explorers need not be residents of the City of Platteville.
Covert described the post’s goals as “learning to be a firefighter, except making entry into the structure.”
“We modeled ours on Richland Center, which has been going now for 23 years,” said Fiedler. “Six of them have gone on to careers in fire departments.”
The program will have three phases — familiarization with the fire service and suiting up; working on training scenarios, including putting out small fires; and going to fire scenes. Skills will include basic First Aid and CPR, along with firefighter tactics — turnout gear, pulling hose, knowledge of fire equipment, and how a fire scene is set up.
Covert described the program as “almost exactly” how new firefighters are trained.
“If they’ve proven themselves, they’ll be issued a pager,” said Fiedler, although pagers will not be allowed during classes in school.
Members are required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average. Members of the post can apply for the Fire Department at 19.
The program will include trips to the Public Safety Complex at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore. The complex has a building in which a kitchen fire and a second-floor-bedroom fire can be simulated. (See “In case of emergency,” Aug. 8.)
“We know this is not a career [fire] department; that’s not what we’re trying to do,” said Covert. “If you want a career in fire, this is a big head start. And if you want to volunteer, this is also a great head start.”
More information on the post is available by emailing Plattevillefireexplorers@gmail.com, or by calling 348-7826.