Junior Firefighters Tackle Education and Keeping Their Towns Safe

ELHS students devote time to helping keep our towns safe

WILL DUMOND

Between East Lyme and Salem, three fire departments are run by senior firefighters, but many others at the department often go unrecognized.

Junior firefighters are groups of students from eighth grade to seniors in high school who devote spare time to assisting East Lyme and Salem. Volunteers spend time training with professional firefighters for situations that may occur in the real world.

“Junior firefighters’ responsibilities could include assisting at public events and emergencies such as public gatherings, fires, vehicle accidents, rescues and training events,” said Rob Oloski, the fire chief in Salem.

Senior Jesse Oloski, Mr. Oloski’s son, is part of the junior firefighter program in Salem, and as junior deputy chief, he has experience in serving. Whether it be preparing equipment or assisting in a car accident, he knows exactly how to help. Oloski said that the training everyone goes through can be directly applied to what happens when they are helping with a real-life emergency.

“We’ve actually had a car donated to us in the past where we would use tools on the truck like the jaws of life to save mannequins inside the car,” Oloski said.

In EL, senior Sydney Sager attends training at the Niantic Fire Department every Monday night from 7-9 p.m. While there, she and other junior firefighters learn how to throw ladders, get used to the tools on the fire trucks, and build communication skills with others. In firefighting, communication is key so that everyone knows what is happening and the emergency can be resolved efficiently.

“There is a rule where if someone tells you to go do something, you have to do it then go back and tell them that it is done,” Sager said. This helps in learning obedience to higher ranks and working as a unit.

The camaraderie that forms in each department is undeniable.

“The Junior program along with the adult members become one big family and we help each other through tough times,” Mr. Oloski said. “We live in a small town and often we are helping our friends, family and fellow firefighters.”

Within the program, students feel commitment to something larger than themselves and the satisfaction of doing good.

“Volunteerism has dwindled over the years and by gaining children’s interest at a young age we hope to encourage them to want to help make a difference,” Mr. Oloski said.

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