BY BARRY WARNER
Rockland County Fire Explorer Post 44 at the Fire Training Center in Pomona is a program for youngsters between the ages of 14 and 21. It simulates situations that are experienced in the fire services of the United States. The drills consist of various training scenarios ranging from first aid to structure fires. When a participant joins, the individual is provided with firefighting gear, a work uniform, a dress uniform and is given a fit test in order to use a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
“Some members leave at 16 or 18 after they have joined Fire Departments or went off to college,” Rockland County Fire Explorer Post 44 Advisor Carol Cich told The Rockland County Times. They join to learn and experience first hand what their local firefighters do. They do it all on a smaller scale. If they decide to join a department (and most do), they will be sent here for training. They develop strong friendships and have the opportunity to compete and train with other posts around the state, including the Putnam County Fire and EMS Training Center and the FDNY Training Academy on Randall’s Island.”
“I volunteer because my family members have been volunteer firefighters for many years,” Cich continued. “My husband has over 45 years [experience] and my sons started in Explorers and now have served 12 and 9 years each in fire departments. I started to come around just for support and help when needed and then was formally asked to be an advisor. I learn with them and bring a different perspective as a mother, not as a firefighter. I’m the one who reminds them to bring extra socks and hold the cell phones that they forgot to put away. I have worn the gear on occasion to feel what they are experiencing, in order to encourage them during training. This way, I can honestly try to alleviate any fears they may have. Some of the older members still call me ‘Mama Cich.’
Cich also serves as president and life member of the Columbian Ladies Auxiliary of the Spring Valley Fire Department, president of the Rockland County Volunteer Fire Services Museum and past president of the Ladies Auxiliary Rockland County Volunteer Firefighters Association.
The 2017 Explorer Post 44 schedule includes the following class topics:
1 Bloodborne Pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include but are not limited to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Needle stick and other sharp-related injuries may expose workers to these pathogens.
2 Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies including heart attack or near drowning in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.
3 An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following a sudden cardiac arrest.
4 A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is a device worn by firefighters to provide breathable air in a dangerous atmosphere.
5 Mask Confidence is where firefighters are tasked with entering a room and following a hose line to locate a ‘down’ firefighter while wearing an air pack and a blacked-out mask. Firefighters have to rely solely on touch to find their way around the room.
6 Vehicle Extrication is the process of removing a vehicle from around a person who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident using tools like ‘The Jaws of Life’ when conventional means of exit are impossible.
7 Car fires: In general, when firefighters approach a vehicle fire, they wear full protective equipment including the SCBA, and use the full reach of the water supply and attempt to keep the fire from spreading to parts of the car not initially involved.
8 Rappelling refers to wearing a harness attached to a friction device and sliding down a rope. Emergency rappel is a last-ditch survival method used when a firefighter is forced off an upper floor due to a roof collapse.
9 A ladder that is too long or short will force firefighters to work off an angle that can be unsafe and bigger ladders will often require more manpower to place and raise them.
10 Live fire training drills teach trainees how to think clearly and act calmly under the stress of an emergency situation, when lives are at stake and every second counts. In order to conduct a live fire training drill, instructors purposely ignite structures called ‘burn buildings.’ Before the live fire training drill, trainees are outfitted in their turnout gear. This is special firefighter protective clothing that can withstand temperatures up to 1,200 degrees. Turnout gear includes a fireproof insulated coat, a helmet, gloves, boots and pants and a SCBA.
11 Confined space emergencies contain a hazardous atmosphere, a material that has the potential to engulf the firefighter, and has an internal configuration that can asphyxiate the firefighter by inwardly converging walls.
12 Forcible entry is the act of gaining access into the building via a door, window or wall using pushing/pulling, prying, striking and cutting tools. The drywall hook can grab large sections of drywall with each pull, the Halligan is a multipurpose tool with a claw, blade and pick and the ax is the most common manual cutting tool.
“I am an 11th grader and decided to become a Probationary Firefighter because my father is a volunteer firefighter for the Monsey Fire Department,” Explorer Zachary Saltzman said, “The experience I gained as an explorer gave me a taste of being a firefighter. When I go on calls, I prepare the tools for the personnel fighting the fire.”
“I am a 10th grader and joined the explorers because my father is a volunteer fireman for the Monsey Fire Department,” another Explorer, Gabriel Saltzman stated. “I am learning how to connect a hose and work the nozzle when fighting a fire.”