Fire explorers learn the ropes at Sanger Fire Department

Nine young adults gain hands-on experience over the course of a week by participating in annual Fire Explorer Academy

Fire explorer students watch Sanger Fire Department firefighter Skyler Ellis perform proper technique of tying a knot to secure a ladder during an exercise on July 26 at the annual Fire Explorer Academy hosted by the Sanger Fire Department. The week-long session provided hands-on experience for nine students ages 14-18 years. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published July 27, 2023  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – Nine young fire explorers are learning the ropes this week – with the help of Sanger Fire Department firefighters and personnel – as they pursue their dreams of becoming full-fledged professional firefighters.

The six young men and three young women ages 14-18 years are participating in the annual Fire Explorer Academy, located at the Sanger Fire Department’s (SFD) main station at 601 West Ave., on the southwest corner of West and Academy avenues. The explorers are learning “hands-on didactic and manipulative training to learn the profession of firefighting.” The Fire Explorer program is part of the Boy Scouts of America.

Young fire explorers stand at attention under the direction of Fresno explorer Carson Pool, center with sunglasses, during the start of an afternoon training session on July 26 at the annual Fire Explorer Academy hosted by the Sanger Fire Department. (Jon Earnest)

“We started doing it around (2018), and have done it every year since then except for 2020 because of COVID,” said SFD firefighter-paramedic Joe Montejano, who is overseeing the week-long program. “There (are) young firefighters around the county that were part of our program years. It’s great to watch them grow up and start their careers.”

The department says the purpose of the Explorer program is to provide real life experiences to help young people mature, learn responsibility, accountability and teamwork while exploring a possible career as a professional firefighter.

Fire explorer student Frederick Hilliker of Fresno listens as Sanger firefighter Skyler Ellis explains the process of placing an extension ladder against a building during an afternoon training session on July 26. The annual Fire Explorer Academy hosted by the Sanger Fire Department provided hands-on experience for nine young explorers ages 14-18 years. (Jon Earnest)

On July 26, the afternoon’s activities consisted of learning the basics of carrying, moving and setting up a ladder. Explorer students watched Sanger firefighter Skyler Ellis carry around a 14-foot extension ladder in its folded position, as Ellis then demonstrated extending and securing the ladder while placing it against a building. The students then went through individual drills demonstrating what they learned.

Some of the week’s other hands-on activities include hose deployment, fire hydrant operations, personal protection equipment, firefighter safety and mayday, and familiarize the students with tool and apparatus equipment.

The morning activities on July 26 also included a pop quiz from Sanger Fire officials on a variety of subjects, part of the bonding and teaching process with the students.

The week’s activities will conclude on Friday, July 28, with a mid-afternoon barbecue including the explorers’ families. At that event, certificates and awards will be presented to the students.

Montejano also said Fire Explorer students will participate in ride-alongs for the rest of the year, and will acquire much learning from observing firefighters at work.

Jon Earnest
Reporter