What is the Fairhope Explorer Program?

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Ashton Stratton (9), Noah Kantor (9), Grayson Johnson (12), Darrius Pough (12), with Newton Elementary School students

Josie Conway, Reporter

Have you ever wondered what exactly the Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department Explorer Program does, or do you have a young teenager who dreams of being a firefighter? Well, here’s what the volunteers themselves had to say about the program.

In order to join the program, you must be at least 14 years of age and can only participate until you are 18. According to Bradly Huber, captain over his fellow volunteers, “once you turn 16 you can ride [the fire]truck, you can go to calls, etc. At 18, you can go to a structure fire and are a lot more involved in the scenes. We help out senior guys during calls until then; we do smaller things but it helps benefit senior guys.” This program is open to both boys and girls and was created through a partnership with the Boy Scouts of America. These volunteers are recognized at school on certain occasions such as 9/11 and Memorial Day when they are instructed to wear their uniforms to school.

Grayson Johnson has been involved with the program for five years and highly encourages anyone with an interest in becoming a Fire Fighter to join the program as early as possible. However, you cannot get a certification through this program. “What you can do is go to the trade school in Robertsdale and get your 160, which is basically your volunteer certification,” Joseph Toomey, member of Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department Explorer Program stated. Toomey also explained that “after you graduate there is a scholarship through the Alabama Fire College that you can apply for or you could go to various fire academies in our [Baldwin County] area.”

The volunteers went to multiple Fairhope elementary schools this week in order to teach fire prevention. Kids were informed on how smoke detectors work, how to stop, drop and roll, and even got to see the inside of a fire truck and learn the basics of it. These demonstrations performed by Fairhope’s Explorer Program helped teach hundreds of kids how to stay safe during fires and how to prevent them in just three days. Hopefully, those demonstrations will inspire kids who would like to be a firefighter to join the program once they reach 14. As Huber said, they will be “training tomorrow’s heroes.”

Grayson Harris (12) as Sparky the Mascot at Newton Elementary School.
Joseph Toomey (12)
Darrius Pough (12) and Bradly Huber (12)
Grayson Johnson (12)