GETTING FIRED UP: Teens learn fire skills in day camp with GFT


Paxton Hudson works a firehose under the supervision of Greenfield firefighter Easton Field. Greenfield Fire Territory held a camp for 7th and 8th graders. Kids were exposed to the many operational procedures while working as firefighter. Monday, May 31, 2022.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Inside the meeting room at Greenfield Fire Territory Station 2, about a dozen area teenagers were taking a break from the heat and getting a little classroom instruction on some of the ins and outs of being a firefighter.

The one-day summer camp Monday, May 31 was designed to allow students in grades seventh through early high school to not only see what real life firefighting is all about, but to also get some hands-on work as well.

Fire inspector Steve Kropacek was in charge of the day’s activities and said the idea is to get kids fired up about one day being a firefighter.

“It’s good to get kids out here and show them a little bit of the job and get them used to what they might see if they want to join us and be a Cadet in high school,” Kropacek said. “We always have a lot of fun with it because it lets the kids see if they want to get a little bit more involved.”

The GFT Cadet program is for high-school-aged students while the day-long camp was designed for the younger kids who might be thinking about a real interest in firefighting and joining the GFT Cadet program.

Dagan Wicker, 14, Eastern Hancock, has always watched firefighters on television shows but wanted to see what it was like in real life.

“I’ve been kind of surprised because I watch a lot of television-type rescues, and it’s pretty different,” Wicker said. “It’s a lot better to see this in person than it is on television.”

If he decides to be in fire safety, Wicker thinks he’ll be probably be a paramedic or EMS official.

Haedyn Keith, 15, Eastern Hancock, has an uncle who is in the fire service in another state and is thinking about getting into the field of helping others. He took part in the day’s activities to see if it sparked his interest.

“I might go into the firefighting field. I just don’t know yet,” Haedyn said. “I just know I want to do something where I can try and help my community.”

Greenfield Fire Territory firefighter paramedic Nick Mellene was one of the officials helping show the youngsters the ropes. He liked the idea of giving kids who might want to join the GFT Cadet program a better picture of what really happens at a fire station.

“Our cadet program really gets kids involved at a young age and then can get them started into the fire service,” Mellene said.

Mellene graduated from Eastern Hancock High School and said he wished officials would have offered this type of early training when he was younger. Still, he liked helping out Monday.

“It’s always fun to mentor kids in firefighting and also other aspects of life,” Mellene said.

He noted that the day-long camp wasn’t too hard on the young kids, but officials did want to show them the hard work that goes into being a firefighter.

“We’ve showed them a few things this morning like a smoked-up room and search procedures and let them see all the equipment and things that,” Mellene said.

In the afternoon, the firefighters were going to let the students learn more about hose work. One of the best things about the program is the interaction between the GFT firefighters and the students.

“It’s great to see their eyes light up,” Mellene said. “We showed them some work with the jaws of life, and they were really in to it and excited about it.”

Tai Long, an eighth grader at Greenfield-Central Middle School, finds firefighting to be one of the more interesting careers out there because of the chance to help others.

“I may not get into the actual firefighting, but I am thinking about being an EMS,” Long said.

When the young teens were observing the firefighters using the smoke to fill a room and conduct a rescue, the kids noted how it brought the seriousness of the job to the forefront.

“I have a lot of respect for what they do,” Long said.

Keagan Sanders and Kevin Moats, current GFT Cadets, were helping with the activities and said it’s these types of days when kids get the chance to see firsthand what really goes into fire safety that can make or break a possible firefighting career.

“It’s a lot different than what people think,” Moats said. “I know being part of the program has helped me decide I want to come here and work when I turn 18.”


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