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Fire Exploring - Professional Opinions Only Please

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  • Fire Exploring - Professional Opinions Only Please

    At the ripe age of 14, I joined a Police Explorer Post. Four short years later, I was the Captain of that Post, enjoying the experience, having a much higher level of self confidence, discipline, and sense of responsibility. Of course I also enjoyed being looked up to by my “men,” or boys as some of them were.

    I must say that I was EXTREAMLY fortunate to have been a member of a highly regarded on the national level, professional (zero nonsense/shenanigans policy) and well administrated Police Explorer Post. And the unfortunate truth is that a large majority of Police Explorers are not as fortunate as I was. My Post Advisor, truly took the program to heart, and spent the same amount if not more time working on the program each week as he did with his standard Law Enforcement duties. In all honesty, he had no “life.” His life was Law Enforcement, Police Exploring, and of course the occasional Harley Ride/Golf Match.

    Now to get to my point and thank you for bearing with me, as I write this on Firehouse.com, you may have already came to the conclusion that I did not choose to pursue a career in Law Enforcement, but rather the Fire Service. This is in no way a reflection of my experience as a Police Explorer, but rather a personal choice.

    I am and have always been sincerely interested in pioneering an Explorer program within my agency. And I have already tossed back and forth the idea of “Explorers (Chartered by Learning for Life) vs. Junior Firefighter Program (Department’s Responsibility To Develop Policy, ECT.) And am quite firm on my choice to pursue the Explorer Route.

    In my rant/seeking advice here today, I would like the opinions of my fellow Firefighters about Exploring and Junior programs. Also, has anyone successfully started such a program in their agency? What kind of struggles did you face, what were your fundraising tactics, how did you develop agency specific S.O.P./S.O.G.’s for your program? Also, are you a volunteer, combination, paid on call or career department? Any information you can provide would be more then appreciated!

    I have my own set of opinions on the program and in case you have not already gathered, most are positive, but I agree that Explorer programs need to be watched closely and that rules must be enforced.
    Isn’t this how we should act as Firefighters at every level, with every department anyway? I would like to hear what YOU have to say on the matter. Chief Officers all the way down to Firefighters are encouraged to reply.

    Thank you!
    Yes, 100%
    Last edited by firefighter5329; 03-11-2011, 05:03 AM.

  • #2
    I have seen a high and low with our explorer's program. It was started with a leader who didn't fully support it. The program survived through the dedication of several volunteers. It was far from effective. Today we have a new leader and a strong set of volunteers. The program has really done a 180 and is very sucessfull. I beleive with proper leadership the explorer's program is a fantastic addition to any department.
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    • #3
      My reply from another post......

      We have had an explorer program since 1990. I was one of the first explorers in our post as well. It is actually a division of the Boy Scouts, not just our in-house junior program.

      The key to these kinds of things is strong leadership in the group and support from the chief down to the newest firefighter. Over the years we have had several explorers become full time firefighters and some have went on to other service fields like police officers, prison guards, pharmacists, doctors, military, etc. I agree that it's not just showing them fire service things but I like to call it "life mentoring." It takes a lot of work and dedication to keep it running too. Yes, it takes constant recruiting as well. Your group totally depends on who is in charge if they make it educational yet fun.

      Our explorers have to complete a 2 part training program (most of the training is the exact same as basic firefighter training) before they are able to respond to calls. In fact several explorers have went through the Entry Level firefighter training as an explorer. They are issued gear and can train with the rest of the department as well. On the scene they can do any number of "outside" activities that doesn't put them in danger or at the station they can run the base radio and do dispatcher functions.

      I think they are great for young people, it gives them a sense of direction and I personally could have easily been on the other side of the law if it wasn't for being part of the explorer program, others too!

      As far as SOG's...if you would like a copy of ours, send me a PM with your email address and I will send it to you.
      Jason Knecht
      Township Fire Dept., Inc.
      Eau Claire, WI

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