The Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department will continue Junior Firefighter training longer under the direction of PVFD Firefighter Devren Bennett.
The Junior Firefighter training program usually runs from Oct. 1 to the end of December, but the program has evolved recently with Bennett's contribution.
“This is my first year to run the program,” Bennett said. “Previously the program was run by Troy Thynes and Paul Jennings but I have structured things a little different this year.”
In previous years, the program was conducted with more classroom time. With the new structure there is more hands-on training for the students.
“This year I have brought in other firefighters to assist with the training,” Bennett stated. “These students are taught anywhere from fire behavior to self contained breathing apparatus, SCBA.”
The actual program is finished but the students continue training Monday evenings.
“Now that the junior trainees have their hours they are invited to join the department on Thursday evenings for the drills,” Bennett stated. “They have it great, they have the opportunity to participate in two drills a week, they get twice the training.”
The Junior Firefighter Program is for students age 15 to 18 or students who are still in high school.
When a Firefighter 1 course is offered, if a junior trainee is 18 years old or will turn 18 during the course they are eligible to take the course.
“We offer the Firefighter 1 course here when we have enough to take the class,” Bennett said. “We have to have six ready in order for the State to proctor the test.”
PVFD had one student who finished the junior program and went on to take the Firefighter 1 course and is now working for the North Star Fire Department in Fairbanks. Tell Sprague lives in one fire station, works in another station and still attends school.
“We are very proud of him and his accomplishments,” Bennett stated. “He will return to work in Petersburg over the summer and he will respond and train with us while he is here.”
Another change that will take place with the Junior program next year will be the addition of a lieutenant in the program.
“Next year we will have juniors move up who have been involved in the program,” Bennett stated. “I will have the students vote for a lieutenant in the program who will be involved in the training portion and be a part of the instructor portion of the program.”
Monday evening, five of the eight junior students gathered at the Scow Bay Fire Hall for drills in the cold and rain and they seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
Other training takes place on these Monday evenings as well. PVFD Firefighter Mike Teem attended Monday nights drill to train as an engineer.
“We want to be able to have a duplicate to every position,” PFVD Assistant Chief Dave
Berg said. “It's nice to have this opportunity to get some extra training in.”