MONROE – The next generation of firefighters was on display June 18 to 21 as the Monroe Fire Department hosted its first summer camp for students.
Two dozen students took part in the four-day Camp 1872. Campers learned about CPR, ambulance and fire truck apparatus and fire extinguishers.
Camp 1872 was named after the year the Monroe Fire Department was founded. Eight of the 24 campers have a parent who is a firefighter, including seven with the Monroe Fire Department.
Assistant Fire Marshal Kevin Philemon said the goal of the camp is to expose middle school-aged children to potential careers in fire safety. He said the camp could be beneficial to Monroe or other communities even if none of the campers become firefighters.
“One of these campers could grow up and become a town manager, an elected official or a community leader,” he said.
On June 19, different groups put on full firefighting gear and then went into a darkened room without flashlights to find several different bolts and washers and put them back together.
“Every time we go into a fire, we can’t see anything,” Monroe Assistant Fire Marshal Katie Hinson told the campers before the exercise. “The smoke is heavy, and it is just blacked out. You have to be able to get used to not being able to see things, so we have to use our other senses. You will have gloves, so it is going to be tricky. All the parts are on the floor and you are going to have to crawl around and find all the parts. You have to work as a team and be patient.’’
The department also sponsors the Monroe Fire Explorer program, which provides fire service career experiences to youth ages 14 to 21. The explorers usually meet once a month, and they participate in various department events. Uniforms and the needed fire gear are issued to the explorers. There is no cost to join the program.
Philemon said he hopes campers will take the next step and join the explorer program. Almost 10 former explorers are now with the Monroe Fire Department. Several explorers helped fire department personnel at the camp.
“We teach them what we do in case they want to further their education and become firemen,” Philemon said of the explorers’ program. “We invite them to any fire-safety education that we do. One meeting night ,they will go to every station and meet everybody.’’
Miranda Sprouse, a rising high school senior assisting at the camp, has been an explorer for two years.
“Being part of this will help me get prepared to be a firefighter,” she said.