The California Fire Exploring Academy is a week of discipline, learning, hard work and lots of fun. There are five different ranks (Cadet, Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief and Academy Chief) that allow people to learn new skills each time they go. I have had the opportunity to attend four times. Each time I held a different rank and learned basic firefighting and leadership skills from the best in the California fire service.
The week starts off with check in where the cadets are assigned to their squads (groups of up to 6 people lead by a Captain) followed by two hours of military orientation led by Drill Instructors from local fire academies and branches of the military set the tone for the rest of the week. They teach the cadets how to line up in formation, address officers and advisors, and physical training. They are excellent at breaking down the individual and bringing the entire academy up together as a group that can accomplish tasks that nobody can do alone. Then the “base camp” for the academy is setup, dinner is served, clean up is finished and the classes begin.
The academy teaches you how to fight a wildland or structure fire, break holes in concrete walls to rescue a victim, extricate people from damaged cars and control a flammable liquids fire. Each night three hours of lecture instructs the cadets in what they will be doing during the eight hours of hands on training the following day. The hands on training is what makes the academy so great. As a cadet I got to cut up five cars with each station showing you a different way to extricate the victim. Firefighter skills prepared me for the live structure burn by spending the whole day advancing hose, conducting room searches and solidifying knowledge of my SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus). The live structure burn day, known as Fire Control 3 is the hardest and most fun day of the academy. A fast pace is kept all day long so that you have the most time in training. A group fire behavior class at the beginning of the day gives cadets their first taste of being inside a burning building and shows them the stages of fire progression. Then the academy breaks into their squads and makes multiple interior attacks on structure fires with stations focusing on fire attack tactics, situational awareness (knowing your surroundings) and vertical ventilation.
When cadets return to the academy they can promote to the leadership positions and continue to not only learn the basic firefighting skills but also how to be an effective leader. It all starts at the Captains position where you get your first experience as a squad leader. The captains are in-charge of making sure their crews are safe, hydrated and accounted for. Squads do everything together for the entire week so a strong captain keeps their crew close, and motivated at all times. The chief officer positions allow people to really test their leadership abilities. Leading anywhere from 27 to 168 kids who are tired and sore from the demanding physical schedule of the academy is a real test of your leadership abilities. The advisor staff is there to help the chief officers build on their existing leadership skills and motivate the cadets to keep a positive attitude and get as much knowledge out of the week as they can.
The academy concludes with a graduation ceremony where friends and family are invited to watch as the academy receives their certificates for the classes they’ve taken and watch a video of the kids in action. I have greatly enjoyed my time at the California Fire Exploring Academy and strongly recommend it for anyone looking to enter a career in the fire service.
San Anselmo Police Explorer Post #306
The San Anselmo Police Explorers are looking for new prospective members to join the post and experience the training and events in which the explorers take part. The explorers just returned from a competition in Sonora, California called Challenge. Challenge is held annually and is a combination of classes, competitions/scenarios, physical competitions, and meeting new people. The explorers this year competed in hostage negotiation, felony traffic stop, and more along with a shooting competition, bike competition, and obstacle course. One of the explorers, Sam Wise, won third place in the bike competition this year. The explorers really have a lot of fun at this event. There is a lot of training involved in getting ready for these events. Officers from San Anselmo and other departments as well as other law enforcement professionals lead the trainings and teach the explorers how to perform in the different scenarios.
Explorers go to countless community events, one of which is the San Anselmo Art and Wine Festival coming up July 17th and 18th. The explorers set up a hot dog booth and jumpee in order to raise money for explorer events. The advisors help out a lot with this event as with other events and the explorers are very grateful for this aid. These events not only allow for fundraising, but they allow the explorers to meet people in the community and interact with them on a new level.
This is the perfect time to join the post as a prospective member since the San Diego Law Enforcement Academy, which is required for membership in the post, is coming up in August. Academy is a weeklong “boot camp” in which explorers from all over come and train, take classes, undergo physical training, meet new people, and have fun! Explorers come back from Academy much of the time having made lifelong friends and taking with them a truly unforgettable experience. Most cannot wait to go back the next year!
The San Anselmo Police Explorer Post #306 is recruiting young adults aged 14-21 and out of eighth grade who want to have a fun and interesting experience while learning about law enforcement, leadership, teamwork, and a good work ethic. The post is also interested in youths who are currently in eighth grade to come to our training sessions and possibly become members in June 2010. Explorers get to work closely with the officers and get a firsthand look at real police work. If you are interested in joining the post or finding out more about what we do, you may call the San Anselmo Police Department at 415-258-4610 and ask for Advisor Patty Stahl. You may also come to one of our events and pick up a brochure.
Novato Police Explorer Post 392
In April, the Novato Police Explorer Post sent three Explorers to the 2010 Law Enforcement Explorer Challenge in Sonora. While there, they participated in two training classes and completed scenarios after the classes.
The first scenario was a domestic violence call, and the Explorers responded, took control of the scene, conducted interviews, and stated which person would be arrested and under what Penal Code the arrest would be made.
The second scenario was a burglary in progress. The Explorers quickly and quietly searched the building and, upon finding the suspect, safely placed him in custody and searched him.
Also, all three Explorers participated in a Shoot/Don’t Shoot training scenario. The Shoot/Don’t Shoot training is a screen with a scenario projected on it, in which a situation is played out. During this scenario a worst case situation occurred and forced the Explorers into a shoot or don’t shoot position. After the scenario was completed, the officer instructing the training replayed the event explaining what was done properly and what could have been better.
All three Explorers learned a great deal and gained valuable experience for real life situations police officers face.
Additionally, all of the Explorers in the post have been doing ride-a-longs and participating in community service. The ride-a-longs are with many different Novato police officers, and each Explorer completes at least 8 hours per month. For community service, Explorers have helped with the Novato Youth Academy, a course for 7th thru 9th graders. Also, the Police Explorers will be working a booth at Novato’s 50th Birthday Celebration on May 22 at Novato City Hall.
Fire Explorer Post 61, Novato
April 2010: Words cannot begin to describe the experience we had as a part of the 36th annual California Fire Exploring Academy. The entire ride down to Downey was full of excitement and anticipation because nobody in our group had ever attended an academy so we had no idea what was ahead for us. When we arrived we checked in our gear and were immediately ordered out to a baseball field where our first few hours were spent learning how to fall into formation with a mix of physical training with Marine drill instructors. We learned how to operate in the paramilitary structure of the academy and discovered the plan for our week of training ahead which included many different facets of being a first responder such as patient stabilization, auto extrication, wildland firefighting, firefighter skills and much more. We all knew by the first night that we were going to have the most amazing and intense week of our life when they called lights out in our barracks.
Our entire academy was separated into three divisions so each day we were sent to different training grounds and my division’s first day was at the auto extrication station. We learned how to use hand tools when hydraulic power isn’t available and how to stabilize a vehicle before you can extricate a patient. One of the highlights of the day was when the instructors removed a few airbags from the cars we were working on and detonated them to show the explosive force that they can deliver.
My division’s second day was centered around flammable liquids. We learned how to set up and operate master streams and how foam agents are used to help fighting fires. The mayor of Downey visited us and all of the squad captains put on a display by advancing attack lines on a propane fire prop. Our third day was Fire Control 3 which was very exciting because we got to go through smoke mazes and see how a fire grows through its different stages and we got to put water on fire which was one of the best parts of the academy and everyone came back to dinner with big smiles and soot everywhere but everyone had a good time.
Our forth day was the wildland training day and it was full of different activities like practicing how to deploy a fire shelter or how to perform a mobile fire attack. We cut handlines through brush with various tools like the Polanski and McCloud and that was a lot of fun. At the end of the day they started a burn on an open field and allowed the academy to attack the grass fire in teams with an engine and a hose and it was an amazing experience.
My final day of training focused on firefighter skills such as cutting heat holes, pulling hose, and throwing ladders. We also practiced forcible entry with many different tools like a rambar and a circular saw that we used to cut through steel rebar. It was our last day of training so the energy level was very high and it was a great way to finish off the week. My favorite activity of that day was using a chainsaw to cut a heat hole in a ventilation prop and having a partner louver the cut with a rubbish hook which opened it up.
The final day there was sad yet exciting because we were graduating from the academy with all of our friends we had made during the week we might never see again. The morning was full of running around and cleaning up but by the time graduation came we could barely believe weI had spent seven days down there and all we wanted was for it to keep going but it was time to go. we learned many techniques and lessons that we will never forget but most importantly we became much more confident individuals and learned that as a fire explorer we have the best gift of training before going off to an academy and all the work we put in and the friends we made will only benefit us later on in life. We thank everyone for helping us go to this academy and allow us to get such amazing training.
San Anselmo Police Post 306
This month, one of the San Anselmo Police Explorers, Virginia, attended a competition in Paso Robles, CA. Although she joined our post when she came up to Marin County to attend school at Dominican University, she attended this competition with her previous post, Post 30.
At the competition, she took part in many scenarios including building search, hostage negotiation, felony traffic stops, domestic, oral boards, a writing test, an interview, along with other exciting events. She and her team won first place in domestic and she also took home second place in interview. She said it was competitive and challenging but a lot of fun as well! She added that it was a small, local competition so it was very nice to meet people from other posts around the area. Explorers greatly enjoy these types of competitions because they not only have fun and learn a lot, but they get to meet a lot of other young adults with similar interests and gain many friends through the program!
We are currently recruiting people age 14-21 that have finished the eighth grade who want to have a fun and interesting experience while learning about law enforcement, leadership, teamwork, and a good work ethic. The post is also interested in youth who are currently in eighth grade to come to our training sessions and possibly become members in June 2010. Explorers work closely with the officers and get a firsthand look at real police work. If you are interested in joining the post or finding out more about what we do, please call the San Anselmo Police Department at 415-258-4610 and ask for Advisor Patty Stahl. You may also come to one of our events and pick up a brochure.
MarinCounty Fire Department Explorer Post 22 Program
Seven years ago, the Marin County Fire Department developed an Explorer program. This branch of the Boy Scouts was designed to provide work experience and education to teens and aspiring young adults. In this case, the Explorer program was aimed at education in the field of the fire service.
Post Advisors, Senior Captain Jason Weber and Captain Ben Gisletta, along with the strong support of the community and the Marin County Fire Department have worked countless hours to develop the program into what it is today. Today, it consists of 15 Explorers, working together along under the guidance of program advisors.
Firefighters Matt Chan, Keith Wallace, and Bryan Galli are working to educate the Explorers in fields such as wildland and structure firefighting, emergency medical care, vehicle accident extrication, and rope rescue. The group also learns about the daily duties of the firehouse and keeping themselves looking professional at all times.
What good is all this training if they cannot put it to use? They can! The program allows Explorers to ride along at any of the six Marin County fire stations, responding to emergency calls, and adding first-hand experience to there training. The Explorers participate in community functions and fundraisers around the county, educating the public about fire safety and giving information about the program itself.
With the exceptional training and opportunities that the program offers, many Explorers have moved into paid positions with the department. The department is extremely proud of the program and strongly encourages all interested to apply.