PIERCE – Volunteer fire departments are an important part of any rural community.
A group of young men and women in Pierce, Nebraska are proving they have what it takes to protect their community, by learning the tools and techniques needed to respond to any type of emergency.
Like many smaller communities in the area, Pierce created a high school cadet training program which allows students between the ages of 16 and 18 to train and become a member of the department.
In the next few months, these cadets will be trained how to operate all equipment, trucks and rescue techniques that full-time firefighters at the station are trained to do.
Chief of the Pierce Fire Department Steve Dolesh says the program is about more than teaching the kids rescue skills. It’s about growing as person.
“One thing we tell the kids right away is that when you become a member of the fire department you’re basically held to a higher standard and i think that gives the kids an incentive to ‘hey I’m going to do good in school, I’m going to make sure that when I’m out in the public that I’m doing what I should be doing and not what I shouldn’t be doing.”
Whatever the program is teaching the kids, Dolesh says, the family of each cadet member is fully involved in the process. He says things like school and family come first, before the fire department.
Cadets need to keep strict grade guidelines in order to be in the program.
“We get the parents involved, let them know what were doing every step of the way, so they’re very up to date on our process and what’s happening. We met with the parents prior to the kids becoming member of the cadet program, so they’re very aware of the process.”
There are rules about what the cadets can and can’t do, if they are called to an actual emergency. For one, they can’t leave school to go on a call, and two, they can’t enter a building on fire, only help from the outside.
Dolesh says the department will keep the cadets and train them until they turn 18, when they will have the chance to become a full-time member.