Rappelling, CPR and fire prevention skills were a few of the lessons learned by children Thursday at the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s (SDFD) first-ever Junior Firefighter Camp.
One-hundred boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 16 attended the hands-on camp at Liberty Station, learning the ins and outs of what it takes to become a firefighter. The goal of the camp is to inspire young SDFD prospects and move them through the department’s cadet program for those ages 16 to 21.
Campers climbed a 75-foot ladder, used hoses, rappelled down a 3-foot building, learned to tear down doors and learned how to perform rescues – all while in full firefighter gear.
“It’s really fun and exciting,” said one participant, Molly. “You never really know what you’re going to do until we actually do it. And you always get surprised, and it’s so much fun to have your friends around.”
“My dad’s a firefighter,” said Brody, another camper. “I’ve been doing so much to help my dad, and it’s just been super fun.”
The camp, staffed by current SDFD firefighters, lasts five days. Campers were required to pre-register, and the SDFD said the program reached full capacity.
Even if the kids don’t pursue careers as firefighters, the skills learned at this camp will last them a lifetime.
“We’re grabbing their attention, and they’re comprehending what we’re teaching them,” said Danny McNamara, SDFD’s assistant cadet coordinator, who’s been a firefighter for 10 years. “Even with cellphones these days, 10-year-olds, knowing when and how to call 911 at appropriate times and (being) able to help people until first responders arrive is a key part of this week.”
Campers also watched demonstrations from the SDFD’s Metro Arson Strike Team and Bomb Squad.
"This camp gives kids the chance to participate in firefighting activities which may spark their interest in a fire service career," said Chief Brian Fennessy. "It allows us to engage potential firefighters of the future while at the same time giving kids valuable teamwork and leadership skills."