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Exploring a career as a firefighter

They perform all the same tasks as a certified firefighter. They learn the same skills and go on the same calls. The difference: They are teenagers and young adults ages 14 to 21. They are Explorers with the Falcon Fire Protection District and the Peyton Fire Protection District.The Explorer posts at the districts offer youngsters real-life experiences as a firefighter.ìOne of the main reasons we started it was because we wanted to give teenagers direction and see if they are interested in the fire department,î said Cory Galicia, FFPD battalion chief and senior advisor for the Explorers.FFPD’s Explorers post was formed in 2003 and currently has 10 members. PFPD’s post 1988 was formed in 2009 by Capt. Mike Deckard.In an e-mail to The New Falcon Herald, Deckard wrote, ìI wanted to allow the youth in our district to experience and have the advantages that the Explorer program offers. When Post 1988 was founded, we had five registered members. Today, we have 12 registered members and have graduated three members who are now sworn-in firefighters.îEach Explorers post meets Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. ìWe bring the training down to the basics,î Galicia said. ìWe do less classroom time to keep them more involved. We’ll do a lot of medical training, auto extrication and search and rescue type stuff. I focus more on discipline and applying themselves for the future.îDeckard wrote, ìThe goal of the program is designed to allow the youth to explore a career in the related field(s) and begin to receive training that would, quite frankly, give them an advantage in those related careers.îìWe’re not only in it for the new firefighters, we’re in it for the youth,î Galicia said. ìWe’re trying to develop the kids for more volunteerism to keep them out of trouble. We’ve had kids in the foster care system that, without this program, wouldn’t have gone the opposite way of trouble.îìI’ve always wanted to be a firefighter,î said Maegan MacAleese, an Explorer and senior at Falcon High School. ìI moved here last year and noticed that the FFPD had an Explorers program. I went to a class, and they asked why I wanted to do this. I said I’ve always wanted to help people.îMacAleese said her favorite part of the program is the physical training, such as pulling ladders and hoses. While she enjoys the CPR training and learning the medical side of firefighting, MacAleese said she especially likes being on site at the fires.Explorers must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to continue in the program, Galicia said. If an Explorer’s grades slip, Galicia and his team of advisers help the student find a study buddy to bring up the grades, he said.While the maximum age a young adult can be in the Explorers program is age 21, Galicia said often times the Explorer will only stay in the program until they’re age 18, when they are eligible to test for their firefighter 1 certification to become a real career firefighter.The FFPD and PFPD have had several success stories from outgoing Explorers who have entered related fields. ìOne kid that we had was in a group home in the Falcon area,î Galicia said. ìHe was getting no support from them. Through the Explorers, the firefighters took him under their wings and now he’s looking into joining the military.î Another Explorer from FFPD went on to join the U.S. Air Force and is currently serving in the Military Police through the Special Forces.Expressing her gratitude for the help she’s received through the FFPD, MacAleese said, ìI appreciate all the firefighters who help us out and support us. They want to make sure they and the other fire departments have a good group coming up.îMacAleese said she plans to get her firefighter 1 certificate, and then try for a position with the FFPD.

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