Fire cadets, their families, and firefighters with the Fredericktown Community Fire District gathered on Tuesday evening at the firehouse to honor the graduates of the FCFD fire cadet academy that completed in 2017.
Opening the ceremony was Cadet Advisor Lieutenant Jeremy Moss, who took the lead of the program around three years ago.
“I don’t think you fully understand how valuable these young men and women are, not only to us, but I had three other departments comment about them,” said Lt. Moss. “Their commitment to not only this program, but their community is second to none.”
The FCFD operates a ten-week academy during the summer months, to prepare the young adults who are a part of the program for the work that they will be called to do. The academy closely follows curriculum for the Ohio 36-hour volunteer fire certification. Although the department cannot “card” or officially provide them with this certification, the leadership of the program feels that any of these cadets should be able to sit for the test once eligible and pass.
“We do hands on training, so when we (firefighters), are doing it on an active scene they know what we need,” said Lt. Moss.
Recruits are sought every year from area high schools, even outside of the Fredericktown district to participate. Once the recruits pass the FCFD academy, all requirements both written and hands on, they move to the status of fire cadet and are permitted to respond on calls and participate per their guidelines.
Cadets who completed the full summer training academy were awarded their one year certificate. Those being honored with this accomplishment were: Trevor Fry, Kenzie Gannon, Jacob Rook, Madison Swick, and Gavin Wilson.
Cadets who have completed two academy courses, and years of service are: Nathan Silliman, Noah Smith, and Lane Swihart.
Cadets who have completed three academy courses, and years of service are: Mason DeChant, Haley Rook, and Rhylee Wilson.
Awards for most improved were presented to cadets Mason DeChant and Nathan Silliman. Their efforts throughout the year greatly improved, their knowledge, skills, and ability to help their fellow cadets and recruits improved as well.
Receiving the “Instructors Choice” award was Noah Smith, a senior at Fredericktown and member of the program for two and a half years.
“I can’t express the countless number of times that this individual has done more than we could imagine,” said Lt. Moss about Cadet Smith.
Lt. Moss spoke about the promotional process that even the cadets had to undergo in order to earn the title of lieutenant, and the responsibilities of leading their company. Three cadets showed interest in the position, submitted written statements of what that meant to them and what they could offer. Candidates then took a written knowledge test and were interviewed before the final choice was made.
Smith didn’t remain seated for long before being called forward again, this time to receive his lieutenants helmet for his hard work, ready to begin the final months of the cadet program. Smith plans to continue his firefighter training after graduation and help his community.
“The kids, I’m telling you, they’re lifesavers,” said Assistant Chief Dwayne Canter. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fire, bingo, a tent setup, we always have a couple of them there.”
The work that the fire cadets are doing at the FCFD isn’t going unrecognized and it goes beyond the reaches of our firehouses. Training not only on their nights, but also training with the firefighters has paid dividends to the success of our mission.
“We had a seven hour fire recently and we had four or five of them on that scene, and they worked and worked, and they don’t just help us,” said Lt. Moss. “That opened my eyes when three other departments said something to me. I was told that it was unbelievable what a help that they (cadets) were.”
“The skill level that the cadets are exhibiting on fire scenes is incredible”, said Chief Scott Mast. “You can see that they know those skills and can do the task at hand.”
The cadet program at the FCFD was built from the ground up and is one of few like it. Two major goals of this program exist, first and foremost is building up young adults; secondly is teaching them the craft of firefighting. While cadets are training and working in real life emergencies and situations, they are learning skills that will last a lifetime and make a difference. Beyond lifesaving, they are learning positive skills of teamwork, problem solving, communication skills, and preparing them for a successful future.
“It’s great to know that the parents do have the trust in us and our department to educate their kids,” said Chief Mast. “I think its invaluable what I think the program does for the kids, and invaluable what it does for our department going forward.”
“We teach them not just a love for this building, but a love of this community, and that’s why we do it,” said Lt. Moss. “If we get five, six, or seven of them from this program to join our department (as a firefighter), we are going to sit back and know we did something right.”