FORSYTH COUNTY -- The Forsyth County Fire Department could be training future firefighters this week, but it will take a few years to be sure.
The department held its sixth annual Junior Fire Academy, a camp for rising seventh- and eighth-grade students, at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex on Settingdown Road, where students have spent the week learning fire safety and firefighting techniques.
“We’re sending them through the whole camp and they are going to learn a lot of different things about actual firefighting, what a firefighter goes through, the job of being a firefighter,” Firefighter Jeff Lyons said. “They’re learning how to do hose rolls, advancement of the hose. They’re learning about inside-the-home escape plans. Forestry is going to be showing them wildland fire techniques ... The whole thing is just geared toward fire safety and what firefighters go through.”
Lyons said the department reaches out to students from kindergarten through high school but that middle school is a critical age because they are more focused than those older and younger.
“It’s a really prime age for us. These kids, right now, are really just now grasping the safety aspects of a lot of things,” Lyons said. “They really pay more attention to us at this age, and they grasp it better.”
Firefighter Hannah Coleman instructed campers as they learned to use a firehose.
She said middle school is also an age where the kids might start considering future plans.
“At this age, they’re going into high school and trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their life,” she said. “I already have two of them that are dead-set on being firefighters.”
She said students are also learning skills that will benefit them outside of firefighting.
“The first day no one talked. They were very quiet. Now they talk all day,” she said. “It’s kind of like a sport. They learn how to work as a team and communicate with each other.
“Whether or not they’re going to be firefighters, wherever they go in life, being together, working together, communicating together: that’s what I see out of these kids.”