JAMESTOWN, Mo. — The Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District held its first 'Little Explorers' program Dec. 9. They hope the program inspires youth to join the volunteer firefighter world.
"We're trying to get young kids involved in being volunteer firefighters early and when their still impressionable," Chief Steve Borts said.
He and assistant chief Kevin Coffelt led the program Dec. 9 for a group of five boys. Jamestown seventh- and eighth-grade students were able to sign up. If they enjoyed the program and would like to get involved in high school, the next step would be to take the basic firefighter course offered through the district.
"We need younger, new firefighters," Borts said.
The basic course is 40 hours and available to anyone over 18 years old and a high school graduate. High school students are able to go on low-hazard calls with the supervision of a parent or guardian.
With about 28 current volunteers, the district needs more help. According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, 70 percent of U.S. firefighters are volunteers. In rural areas, that percentage can be higher.
All of the Jamestown firefighters are volunteers. The closest paid district is Columbia or Jefferson City.
"The people that are taking care of the United States are mostly volunteer firefighters," Borts said.
During the little explorers time at the fire station, they watched informational training videos and did other activities that strengthened their communication.
A Lego-building exercise kept the group thinking critically. One group built a model and was responsible for explaining to the other group how to build it step-by-step. They used radios and were on separate floors.
Borts said he plans to continue little explorers bi-monthly to keep youth interested in devoting their time to volunteering. More seventh and eighth graders are encouraged to sign up, including girls.
He said doing these activities will hopefully show young kids how much fun it can be and how the organization becomes like family.