The Fire Explorer Program is designed for young adults between the ages of 15 – 21 who are interested in learning about a career in the fire service. Fire Explorers participate in community service projects, competitions, fundraisers, and other activities throughout the year.
Additionally, the Fire Explorer Program provides young adults with a sense of responsibility to their neighborhood through ongoing community-related activities.
In this article, a former Fire Explorer, who later became a Los Angeles County Firefighter, discusses his experience then and now.
Dustin Sansone, Firefighter
I started my Fire Department journey as a Fire Explorer with Post 19, Los Angeles County Fire Department Explorer Program. The Los Angeles County Fire Department Explorer Program gave me extra tools to be successful in life, and taught me the fundamentals of the fire service.
I had the opportunity to travel with Post 19 to Alaska to learn how firefighters operate in a different part of the country. I also had the opportunity to enter and complete the 46th Explorer Tower Academy to become a Certified Fire Explorer which gave me the chance to do ride-a-longs with fire stations throughout Los Angeles County.
Post 19 would meet at Fire Station 187 on Sunday mornings from 0700-1100 hrs.
As a team, we started the meeting with a morning line-up followed by physical training (PT). I’ll never forget climbing the tower stairs and the smell of the smoke-stained brick walls.
After PT we completed morning duties that consisted of vacuuming/sweeping floors, cleaning the restroom, wiping down tables and assisting the on-duty crew wash the Quint 187 firetruck. (The name quint is derived from the Latin prefix quinque-, meaning five, and refers to the five functions that a quint provides: pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device, and ground ladders.)
After morning duties we were set off to have fun. We practiced ropes/knots, completed hose lay evolutions, threw ladders against the Tower and donned SCBA’s (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus). I’ll never forget the successful feeling after Post 19 meetings while drinking a canned Gatorade with my fellow Explorers and talking about being a Firefighter.
My favorite Fire Department tool is the Stihl chainsaw. This is my favorite tool because it can be used in multiple ways. This tool is carried up a ladder and used to cut a hole in the roof to release super heated gases to make firefighting conditions sustainable for the fire attack team entering the burning structure with hose lines. The Stihl chainsaw can also be used on brush fires to construct a fire line by cutting chaparral and cutting down hazard trees.
Contributor, Dustin Sansone, Los Angeles County Firefighter.