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Greenbush Fire Department sparking youth interest

Local Explorer students sport the firefighter’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while at an outdoor lesson. Headed by the Greenbush Fire Department, the Explorer program includes eight junior and senior GMR students— both boys and girls. (photos submitted by Randy Jenson)

Local Explorer students climb on a ladder atop a house in Greenbush as part of a search and rescue lesson held last month. This program started last October and runs until May 2017. Greenbush firefighters instruct the program’s students.

The Greenbush Fire Department has not only been working to put out fires during the year, but also, starting this past October, to set its own fire within youth.
“If you give them the experience, that will spark things,” Greenbush Fire Chief Randy Jenson said at city meeting on August 21, 2017 in Greenbush.
Through a Boy Scouts program called,” Learning for Life,” the Greenbush Fire Department started providing local junior and seniors boy and girl students real-life firefighting experience this past October.
Outside entering a burning building, responding to actual calls, and going freely in and out of the fire department, these students get to do everything a regular firefighter would get to do, Jenson explained at that August city meeting.
“We basically teach them how to be firefighters,” Jenson said.
After hearing support from those within the department and receiving approval and financial support from the city, the department introduced the program to local junior and senior high school students. It garnered the interest from eight students, including Alicia Berard, Bryton Foss, Logan Anderson, Shaun Waage, Caleb Tydlacka, Crystal Kolden, Shantelle Gustafson, and Tanner Foss.
Besides seeing perfect attendance, Jenson has also witnessed a certain energy within these student participants.
“They’re there early. They’re all enthused (and) eager to learn,” Jenson said. “… It’s just a great bunch to work with.”
Every third Sunday of the month until May, these students meet for training for about two hours, from 7 pm to 9 pm, learning and participating in different skills each time.
First, the students learned about communications and the Incident Command Structure (ICS), or, as Jenson explained, the structure of the fire department. Then, the students had some lessons on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), learning about how to properly put on and take off their firefighter gear.
Also, students worked with self-contained breathing apparatuses and later search and rescue, first inside the fire hall and then at their next meeting, in an actual house. Part of this search and rescue lesson in a house also involved learning how to properly work on ladders.
At their next meeting, the students will learn about water supplies, specifically working with the trucks and hoses. At their February meeting, the students will engage in an auto extrication lesson, giving them the opportunity to work with the department’s “jaws of life,” hydraulic rescue tools, to cut up cars. In March, the students will participate in wildland fire training, first learning about the four points of a fire and then engaging in some sandbox training.
As part of this sandbox training, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is bringing in tables full of sand with small roads and buildings. Within these sandbox wildfire scenarios, they deal with the elements of wind and temperature, and work with models of gamma goats, jeeps, pumpers, airplanes, choppers, and drones, perhaps in an effort to protect a model structure.
“You’re (the student are) playing with little toys and then they use yarn to simulate the fire,” Jenson said. “… The whole ball of wax is all part of the scenario and then what they’ll do is they’ll slowly pull the yarn as the fire gets bigger.”
The plans for the April and May trainings are undecided at this point.
To see the full story, read the January 3 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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