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Junior Fire Academy teaches teenagers lifesaving skills

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Fire Department is hosting its first Junior Fire Academy July 19-23. The academy is for high school aged students for an opportunity to learn lifesaving skills and what it takes to be a firefighter.

“We’re hoping that this gives them a look inside what we go through on a daily basis, and what we provide to the community and the services that we do bring,” said Rebekah Thurston, Wilmington Fire Department Public Information Officer.

They learn a wide variety of things in and out of the classroom.

Teenager Dexter Baldwin-Bey said he’s learned a lot: “How you can learn if someone has a concussion or not, even the simple stuff — how to take off gloves the right way.”

On Tuesday, students geared up to go through an obstacle course that mimics what firefighters would do on the scene of an actual fire — things like crawling through a tunnel, carrying a hose, and moving equipment.

Baldwin-Bey says after two days of the academy, he feels like he can already make a difference.

“It makes me feel like I can actually make a difference and help a situation out,” said Baldwin-Bey. “I can’t just like sit there and feel like I can’t do anything, I can actually help the situation better — save someone’s life.”

Now, he’s considering a career in firefighting.

“They basically put their lives at risk just to help others, it’s amazing,” said Baldwin-Bey. “I really like it, how they treat each other like a big, happy family. Good energy here.”

He’s one of 16 teenagers, both boys and girls participating, getting hands-on experience.

“They’re very invested, they’re great listeners, they’re working as a team, and that’s really what firefighting is all about,” said Thurston.

Among the boys and girls, Thurston said there is a lot of potential.

“We’re looking for more great additions to the team and diversifying the department because everyone has different cultures and different backgrounds, and they’re gonna bring different skills and experiences for the team,” said Thurston.

The Department said they hope to continue the Junior Fire Academy every year moving forward.

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