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Junior Fire Programs involve Adams County youth

Danielle Ryan

(2/17) Fire department junior programs are taking off in Adams County in hopes of engendering an appreciation for volunteerism in the community at a young age. With the decline in volunteer fire fighters across the country, it is noteworthy to see young men and women actively involved in their local fire department, building the next generation of volunteers.

In February, two young women from the Fountaindale Fire Department, Colleen Rudisill and Lida Fitz, proudly graduated from the Junior Program to become adult members of the Volunteer Fire Department. Both Rudisill and Fitz joined as junior members in 2014. With family ties to volunteerism in the Fountaindale Fire Department, Rudisill became involved as a junior member as soon as she turned fourteen. Her parents are both administrative officers with the Fountaindale Volunteer Fire Department; in fact, her father used to be an active firefighter and served as Captain for many years. Fitz learned about becoming a member of the junior program through friends already involved in the department. Understanding the importance of volunteerism, both Fitz and Rudisill joined with a desire to help their community.

Rudisill and Fitz were only two of the junior members of the Fountaindale Fire Department. It is very important now, more than ever, to have young men and women become active volunteers in their local fire departments. The future of the fire service is in their hands and it is important to capture the love for helping others while being actively involved in the community at an early age. As members of the Junior Program, young men and women are taught many valuable skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. Teamwork, volunteerism, camaraderie and commitment to a greater cause are just a few of the things that can impact their lives in a positive way. Additionally, many friendships are created when young men and women join volunteer fire departments. The skills and life lessons learned as junior members will stick with them as they begin building a life of their own.

Many fire departments across Adams County currently have growing Junior Programs, and the Fountaindale Fire Department, in particular, has been fortunate to have five very active junior members at the Department over the past several years. As a junior member there are numerous opportunities to obtain certified fire and EMS training classes, as well as helping at various department functions. All junior members are encouraged to attend monthly department meetings, station work details and fundraisers. As noted by Fountaindale Fire Department volunteer Sarah Ginn, "We pride ourselves at Fountaindale on a ‘family’ atmosphere. It has been my extreme honor to mentor the juniors in our department and we look forward to having some new younger members ‘fill the boots’ of those juniors who have now turned 18."

Additionally, Adams and Franklin Counties now offer Junior Firefighter Cadet Academies where a junior member spends a week in the summer learning fire and EMS skills, team building exercises, discipline and respect. The first Junior Firefighter Cadet Academy in Adams County was a huge success last August and volunteers look forward to the next academy this summer.

Any interested young men and women can join the junior program at the age of fourteen. For more information on becoming a junior member or volunteering with the Fountaindale Fire Department call 717-794-2021, or visit them on Facebook. For anyone interested, don’t hesitate to stop by your local fire station to learn more.

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