JDHS student Finn Adam (left) and homeschool student James Zuiderduin (right), Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets, practice advancing a hose under pressure at their final day of training with the CCFR on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

JDHS student Finn Adam (left) and homeschool student James Zuiderduin (right), Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets, practice advancing a hose under pressure at their final day of training with the CCFR on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

High school students learn lifesaving, leadership skills in CCFR cadet program

The five high school students held the hose, ready to enter the burning building.

Two orange cones represented the front door, two poles set about 15 feet apart represented two corners of a hallway and another cone beyond that represented a fire in the house. The cadets were going to have to work together to guide the hose through the simulated hallway and extinguish the fire.

Capital City Fire/Rescue Captain Sam Russell, who heads up the department’s cadet program, spoke to the cadets about the importance of being assertive while they gave directions to each other.

[SLIDESHOW: CCFR cadet training]

“For those of you who’ve been told to be quiet your whole life, ‘Inside voice, be quiet,’ I want none of that,” Russell said.

Thunder Mountain High School student Josh Quinto, 17, led the way into the simulated house, and the five cadets yelled back and forth to each other to coordinate their entry. They needed to stay low, move with a purpose and get the hose through the turns of the hallway without having it kink up.

Quinto, backed up closely by TMHS student Michael Rosales, 17, rounded the second pole and took aim. A stream of water sprayed forward, knocking down the cone.

Mission accomplished. Now they had to do it again. And again.

This drill, which took place Saturday morning at the Hagevig Regional Fire Training Center, included five of the 10 high school students currently in the new cadet program. The program started this past September, Russell said, and aims to get the participants either interested in becoming firefighters or at least teach a few skills along the way.

Garrett Johns, whose father works for CCFR, said he was a little reluctant to join the program at first. After being involved for a while, the 17-year-old TMHS student said he’s come to enjoy these Saturday mornings.

“It’s been really fun, actually,” Johns said. “We’ve gotten to learn a lot of new skills, helping me with leadership.”

CCFR has run programs in the past for high school students, but those programs were contained, six-week classes. This new version of the program is a longer-term commitment, as the cadets meet a couple times a month for training and participants are required to attend at least 30 percent of those training sessions.

Some of the participants are sons or daughters of current firefighters. Homeschool student James Zuiderduin, 15, joined the program because his parents had both been firefighters and he wanted to see what it was like.

Others, such as Juneau-Douglas High School student Finn Adam, 16, just wanted to see what it was like.

“It just sounded interesting,” Adam said. “I mean, how many chances do you get to be a firefighter?”

They weren’t able to do much with water during the winter, so they went through a variety of other training exercises. Russell said they learned how to force their way through doors, and Rosales said they recently practiced how to rescue people who had fallen through ice.

Through the program, the cadets aged 16 and above can go along with active firefighters on calls, Russell said. They can’t work with anything fire-related (either in the field or in the drills), Russell said, but they can help secure a scene or help out in other ways.

The capacity for the program is 12 people right now, but Russell hopes to expand that in the future. People interested in the program — or other training, such as Emergency Trauma Technician (ETT) classes — can find applications at the main CCFR station on Glacier Avenue near the Federal Building, Russell said.

Many of the cadets, Russell understands, will leave Juneau and likely not become part of CCFR. If the program teaches the cadets something and convinces at least a few of them to become firefighters either in Juneau or elsewhere, Russell said, he’ll be happy.

“Of the 10, I might get one (to join CCFR),” Russell said. “And even so, of the 10, I might get four or five that want to be firefighters and we’ve at least created a culture of firefighters for somebody else.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets Josh Quinto (middle) and Garrett Johns (left) try not to spray the photographer while performing a drill on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets Josh Quinto (middle) and Garrett Johns (left) try not to spray the photographer while performing a drill on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

From left, Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets Finn Adam, Garrett Johns and James Zuiderduin get dressed as quickly as they can. During this drill, cadets must be able to put on all their gear in less than 60 seconds. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

From left, Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets Finn Adam, Garrett Johns and James Zuiderduin get dressed as quickly as they can. During this drill, cadets must be able to put on all their gear in less than 60 seconds. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets work in teams and practice advancing hoses under pressure. Firefighter/EMT Krista Sheldon watches over them, giving instructions. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

Capital City Fire/Rescue cadets work in teams and practice advancing hoses under pressure. Firefighter/EMT Krista Sheldon watches over them, giving instructions. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

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