Another careless "training" incident, obviously done wrong (not in accordance with NFPA) where a jr FF nonetheless was injured.


I have made no bones about my feelings about jr FFs operating on fire scenes or even doing fire training like this.....there really is no reason. This jr (and potentially others) should have never been in this training in the first place and this training was obviously done wrong.


Yet, I can't point fingers at the juniors here, but the leadership of the dept is clearly lacking. There should be no reason for such a live fire burn to train juniors....let alone using gasoline. And now this dept is finding itself in the midst of an investigation where training violations are being looked at and even the CHILD LABOR LAWS. Much of the same stuff several of us have been harping about on these forums over the years and seeing such comments weakly debated by other junior members and even worse, adult FFs advocating the use of juniors on emergencies. This was a training incident.....why in the heck would a 16 y/o need to be doing live fire training???? (it is a rhetorical question)


This incident should have never happened, but those depts that keep insistently advocating the use of children better start taking heed. This is the first this story broke, so I hope they follow the progress. There really is no good reason to use children on firegrounds, let alone a reason they should be trained in live fire evolutions as a junior.......and there is absolutely NO EXCUSE to use gasoline for training burns.


I have a feeling some pretty significant fines will be handed down...if not some jail time involved...................Was it worth it???




Excerpts from the news report by PAhomepage

Jackson Township, Monroe County - A 16 year old junior firefighter is in critical condition after a training exercise went wrong. It happened in Jackson Township, Monroe County Monday night. The young man suffered first, second, and third degree burns when someone doused a brush pile in gas then lit it on fire.

Several agencies are investigating the situation. Sources say they include the State Police Fire Marshall, The PA Department of Labor and Industry, and the Jackson Township Fire Company.

Earlier this week fire company members met to talk about the botched training session. Chief Lester Wolcott said,"We are gonna do a full internal investigation to try to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and try to get to the bottom of it, get it so it never happens again."

The chief told Eyewitness News the training incident happened on Mountain Spring Drive in Jackson Township. It was organized to teach new members how to work nozzles and other equipment.

It was supposed to be a controlled burn but things quickly got out of control. Someone used a 2.5 gallon can of gas to start the fire. Chief Wolcott said,"They were gonna use a little bit of gas and it was just a little too much gas."

The chief said there was a big flash. He also said the young man apparently did not have his fire suit jacket closed properly. He suffered burns on his arm, neck, and shoulder. Wolcott added,"Myself and the Assistant Chief were not on the scene. We had a younger junior officer underneath us who was doing the controlled burn with them."

State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann was disappointed to hear about the incident. He told Eyewitness News certified instructors are supposed to oversee junior trainees during burns. Mann said since gas was used it is unlikely that an officially trained officer was there. He said someone with the proper training would have made sure the boy was suited up properly and would not have allowed anyone to use gas. He noted, "Gas is just absolutely too volatile to be used as an accelerant with anything. Do not use it period. I do not care the amount."

Mann said if he finds that a certified trainer allowed that, he will move to revoke that trainer's certification. His office is investigating.

The PA Department of Labor and Industry is also investigating to see if the controlled burn violated any child labor laws.

Wolcott emphasized that he will also do a thorough investigation. He said the young man and the young man's family are his first priorities. "They know that we are here for him. The fire company is here for him whatever they need financially, medically, whatever. We are here for them," he said.

It is too early to tell if Jackson Township's workers compensation plan will cover the young man's medical bills.

Chief Wolcott said the family did not want the boy's name released at this time. Eyewitness News is not releasing it to respect their wishes while they focus on the teen's recovery.

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Yea well, I was kind of thinking that someone on the department should be blamed, until I read this

12-year-old race car driver dies from injuries sustained in crash

ST. PETERSBURG — A 12-year-old boy who crashed into a wall during a children's race last weekend at Auburndale Speedway has died, authorities said.


"(This) doesn't make me second guess it at all," said Scott Freitas, 41, of New Port Richey, whose 9-year-old son AJ has won national races. "We can't put our children in bubbles. We have to allow them to do what they're passionate about."

"It can happen with any of the sports," said Charlene Lively, 35, of Riverview, whose 13- and 15-year-old sons also race at Auburndale.

Lively, who witnessed Tyler's crash Saturday night, said she has had many conversations with her sons in the past few days about racing. They've been doing it for eight years.

"They're still very comfortable," she said. "They're still willing to take that chance."

There's are damn good chance that the junior firefighters (and their parents) actually have the risk explained to them.  Of course, how many 16 year old *junior firefighters* (not to mention 12 year old *race car drivers*) actually understand the risks?

It seems there's a reason that children have parents: to make decisions FOR them based on adult understanding and experience.  Yes, the department, Chief, Officers, training officers and junior officers f**ked up, but I suspect that the parents were the weak link in that chain of consequences.  Funny, when a kid makes a bad choice we blame his/her youth and immaturity, but when a parent ALLOWS that bad choice, well..."We can't put our children in bubbles."

Right, they can't put their children in bubbles but they seem damn comfortable putting them in coffins.  WTF!


 I do not think its fair for someone to judge these teenagers simply because some moron decides to let them run a live burn training on their own, or attend training without the gear on and closed up appropriately. 


Not sure who you are viewing as judging these teenagers, I don't seeing anyone knocking the kid for being in the situation, but definately see judgement on the dept and dept's leadership. As you have pointed out, there is a correct way of training and rules that do govern Explorer programs. The rules for an Explorer program are clear that you don't do live fire training, or even firefighting. Explorers can be on a scene in a limited role, but mostly there as observers.


So when it came to this incident, we see a kid getting injured in a live fire "training" evolution that he shouldn't have been involved in. There really is no reason for children to be used as firefighters, so subsequently no reason they should be doing live fire training. The issues I originally contend to revolve around this aspect and even past topics where we have seen adults advocating for children to be utilized on fire scenes....and not just in observation/rehab type of roles.



People forget that these teens are found on fire scenes all over the country on a daily basis and we do not hear many injuries to them at all.  You get these sporadic training mishaps that can be easily blamed on careless, irresponsible firefighters who do not supervise them as they should be and it becomes a hot topic


The aspect of a "hot topic" delves beyond the aspect of the kid being injured. Had this not been a kid, I would bet this would still be a hot topic just for the sake of the use of gasoline on a training fire, so don't make this out to be some sort of witch hunt just because a jr ff was injured.


The biggest reason this is and should damn right be a hot topic is the fact it even happened at all. It clearly shows that there are people that are ignoring standards, not heeding the lessons learned from other similar incidents, and who keep doing this stupid shit. So why shouldn't it be a "hot topic" why shouldn't it be discussed?


Another aspect is the mention of Child Labor Laws being part of the investigation into this incident. This was a mention from the news interview and not something I just decided to come up with to create a "hot topic". In past discussions there was mention of concern of child labor laws and using children on fire scenes, etc. So wouldn't one think that if child labor laws are being looked into, that that would be someting a dept with such programs should also be wary of? I would think so.


These teenagers decide to do something for their neighbor to help them, instead of partying, getting drunk and wasting their lives away, knocking up their teenage girlfriend and having kids at a young age and getting into drugs and other bad things, these kids are doing something right. 


While such programs give a chance for kids to do something productive and something that has some value as well, such programs alone are not going to prevent all this other stuff you are talking about. The same thing could be said with sports, yet we know of kids who play sports getting involved in such incidents. There is also scouting, 4H, school clubs, and so forth that give teens a chance to do something and all programs could make the same claims.....such programs are just another opportunity, nothing more.


Yet, to be honest the Explorer program is not designed to be a training program for FF1 or even to segue into a position with the FD when one turns 18. The real reason for an Explorer post is to give teens a chance to taste what such a job entails and to allow them a chance to get an up close insight to the let them determine if it is a path they wish to pursue.


Yes, I will say they are a good program and gives kids a chance to do something, but such programs should not be about training new FFs, but instead a chance to get a sense of a job.

I would agree to an extent with the parents allowing their children participate, but only if they truly know the risks. If you have children of dept members who think it is OK to let their kids do live fire training, or be utilized in firefighting, then yes, these are absolute morons.

However, there are those parents that could be misled or simply trust what they mat be told. Having seen several kids come through the Explorer program, it is rare to see parents not involved with the dept to stick around for trainings and meetings. Many parents view such programs as another activity for their kids to get involved in and goes into things Moose said on page 1. There could be a time period where the kid participates in things and parents are happy to see them interested in something, staying out of trouble, etc. So you get something like this where the dept abuses that trust and subjects the kid to a "training" that now involves fire. My bet is this dept didn't send permission slips, or really informed the parents of this "training".


The nice thing with Explorer programs is there is a set of rules that any parent can read that governs the post. Some aspects are no live fire, no firefighting, no climbing aerials, etc. Junior programs don't have the same things.


But you are right, the parents should be informed and concerned for their kids and be involved in their life. However, despite the program, a parent should be able to have a sense of trust in a program that their child will not be subjected to dangers, which means the burden of ultimate responsibility is with the dept itself. As Moose mentioned an Explorer affiliated with the Boy Scouts, will be covered by that insurance.....junior programs tend to be subject to the dept........something that any program should be telling parents to let them make an informed decision.

Yet, to be honest the Explorer program is not designed to be a training program for FF1 or even to segue into a position with the FD when one turns 18. The real reason for an Explorer post is to give teens a chance to taste what such a job entails and to allow them a chance to get an up close insight to the let them determine if it is a path they wish to pursue.


John, you are correct, they expose kids to different jobs so they can make a decision.  But, when you are at the firehouse, being taught by trained firefighters about hand tools, fire tactics, hose lines, and air packs, that to me is training that prepares you to take and better understand the Firefighter I training.  That is preparing your future firefighters to me.  I was a Junior Firefighter on Long Island NY, we went with the department to the training center and watched them during their drills, and some times got to participate in the drills if they were approved by the chief officer (smoke houses, ladder drills, etc).  We were also allowed to go to fire scenes with our parents (members of the department), my father was captain of the engine company so I would ride to the scene with him and watch from the car.  But the Explorers up here that I helped were able to respond to the scene in the rescue truck or utility truck or tanker, and assist with certain things, but never were used for firefighting.  There was one time that our chief decided to bring them into a house that had a room and contents fire, well after it was extinguished, with air packs on, so he could explain how the fire progressed, and how it was extinguished.  The kids got a very good training out of it and were able to watch cause and origin do their thing too.


When the kids want to join an explorer program, it is mandatory that they come to a meeting with the advisors and boy scout execs WITH their parents.  The parents are told everything about the program, shown videos and pictures of other explorer programs, receive paperwork and explanatory documentation, and are allowed to ask questions.  Only then do they make the decision to allow their kids to join or not, and we do not let kids join without meeting with their parents or legal gaurdians. Its a boy scout rule, and they keep copies of the permission form the parents must read and sign IN FRONT OF the boy scout rep and fire department advisor after being informed about the program.  In addition, the schools are involved as well, they give updates on the kids' grades and if they are doing poorly they can not prticipate in explorer functions unti their grades are improved.

I know its dangerous, but so is walking across the street, or riding your bike with no helmet (which parents allow).  At least in the explorer program, they are closely monitored and supervised by trained firefighter advisors who go through rigorous background checks and detailed training classes by the BSA.  In the department I was in and was advisor for the whole department helped out, and watched them at scenes, and the officers got involved with their drill and meeting nights, one chief even responded past the firehouse to go to calls just in case their were explorers who couldnt ride on the rescue so he could bring them with him.  Its a realy nice program and I wish I could still be a part of it but unfortunately my current department is too small to support one, and the community is too small as well, we only received replies from 6 families in regards to starting one, and 2 of the kids were turning 18 in a year anyway.  Oh well.



Overall our worlds are more similar than different. I too came up through the Explorer ranks and program and went on to be an advisor with the post. I clearly understand the regulations of Explorers and believe it really is the best system out there.


I, however, became an Explorer with the dept I later was hired on, which is a FT, career dept. I was the only person in the family with a desire to pursue FF and got involved with the post. I was able to do ride alongs at the stations and further learned much about the job in trainings and so forth. The biggest difference was that when it came to scenes, my role was observation......sure I got to carry bags and be a gopher for EMS scenes (at the time I was able to ride on an ambulance), but for fires....strictly observation. In the end I still learned a lot and more than enough to get me through FF1 etc.


Difference for me was there was no transitioning onto the dept, the post was there only to serve as a taste of the job, not prepare you for it. It was up to the individual to decide if they wish to go on. Since the dept is FT career, it took about ten years from when I sort of left the post to getting hired. In that time frame I served in the Navy as a DC (firefighter) and went to school for FF and paramedic, still had to go through the hiring process and took 3 times to get hired. Yes, I learned a lot with the program, I further understood how FN up would impact the chance of getting a job, but the aspect of doinf something for the community really was not I mentioned it was just another program.

So fast forward to this post and much of the reply reflects how I aged and learned. I still remember the young Explorer me, wearing my fire shirt being eager to get involved and do something etc. Difference was being a career dept, you were relagated to observing. I wanted to do more and was eager to do more, but the post followed the rules and I didn't. Years later I can appreciate that decision and agree with it.


So we get an incident like this. I can understand kids being eager, as I was, and wanting to learn and wanting to do more.....and the results are as we see. Why? Because the dept lacked in leadership and allowed this to happen. Furthermore, is the fact there are JUNIOR programs that don't befall the same regulations as Explorers.


Going further into previous discussions of utilizing children we have seen adults arguing there is a place for kids on a fireground and to be more involved than what I saw or even you are describing. They believe it is OK to utilize kids setting up ladders, forcing doors, manning handlines, etc....even further advocating kids go in or even worse, responding emergently in POVs.


So in this incident, as I mentioned, we again a FD that clearly doesn't heed regulations and standards when it comes to training, further believe they are exempt, and further go on to not only injure a FF, but a kid. It shows that there is a clear disregard for all the efforts the fire service has been trying to make....and with a kid involved, furthers brings up the aspect of Child Labor Laws....especially if the dept expects Work Comp to cover.........All valid reasons to highlight the topic I would think.



In the end here, I do see a value in such Explorer programs, I would further go on to say that the junior aspect is subpar to Explorers and should be done away with...that such junior programs should have the regulation that the Explorer program provides. Only caveat is if a junior program can meet or outdo the same regulations as Explorers....otherwise, sorry, I hold no stock for such programs.


Furthermore, this example shows the importance of knowing the training, labor laws, and regulations requirements, but also highlights the downright, moronic stupidity of using gasoline for a training fire.



Agreed.  This "program" that the department in question runs (or half-heartedly watches) is clearly not up to par with the Explorer requirements and I agree is a threat to safety.  I was merely advocating the Explorer program so others could see that there are programs out there that have strict requirements and safety regulations in order to provide the teens in certain communities an opportunity to see what firefighting is like and maybe get them to join the department after their stint with the explorers.

I guess I was lucky to be involved with the program in the volunteer department I started in on Long Island, after completing the program I was automatically accepted as a full member when I turned 18 and sent to basic firefighter training.  The program I ran upstate NY where I am now produced a lot of valuable members for our department who are still firefighters today, and I see them on fire scenes and fire classes from time to time and they still appreciate what they learned.  Its good to see that.


Obviously this "fire officer" that was in "in charge" of them didnt see the video of the control burn that went bad, ending up with a house exploding due to gas fumes building up in the house after dousing it with gasoline, do you know which video I am referring too?  I cant remember the area it happened in but its a popular video for OSHA refresher training and Firefighter I classes.


Stay safe everyone.


 We have been discussing the explorers and  all. However what we must also see is this.

  That this department is sorely lacking in several areas. Leadership, eduacation, etc.

  Had  the explorer not been there then I dare say that it would of been a firemen who was burned.

  Let us hope & pray that there are firemen on that dept. who are able to step up to

key leadership roles. That there are firemen who understand that just because you put on a firefighter uniform, it doesn't make you one.  That being a firemen means having  pride and a love for the job, that these are shown through training,learning and a real thirst for knowledge about this job. Regardless of weather or not you are paid or a Vol.



Had the explorer not been there then I dare say that it would of been a firemen who was burned.


I agree, but that has been addressed too. It does bear a rementioning though too, because this incident clearly shows there are still depts out there that are clueless to NFPA 1403, clueless to training requirments, and think that all these other incidents mean nothing.


To that, that is a shame.

I'm a junior and the closest to live fire I've been in the year and a half I've been a junior is walking by a burning bale maybe 20 ft away at a fire ground. I'm barely even able to participate in drills we do let alone if we'd do live fire drills then I would just stand there and OBSERVE. I thought that is the whole point of a Junior FF is to OBSERVE because I OBSERVE then wait until I can be a full fledged fire fighter in February 2013.

And this is why I dont want a jr FF program at my department


Observation is a big part of the issue at hand and is good that you understand that. The challenge of today and perhaps compounded with the internet, are examples of children being actually utilized on the fireground, and worse, defended by adults.


The juniors and Explorers who do their training in house, learn from watching and so on are not the problem. The problem stems predominently from adults who believe it is OK to utilize children on the fireground and defend their actions. (sans rehab/gopher type of activities). There are also those kids who think they need to leave school or take a POV to such scenes to "observe".


The aspect of a junior FF being injured here is to show how such adult decisions have consequences and to further show things like Child Labor Laws etc should be headed by departments. The training aspect of a junior being burned is a small aspect overall, because such a dept was clearly moronic in that decision and should be held accountable. However, such an incident should hopefully be a final learning piece so other like minded idiots get a sense of reality before decidning their "training" like this is still OK.

The whole "just observing" thing deserves another glance. The JrFF was burned severely because he didn't have his PPE correctly and completely donned. This not following the basic firefighter safety rules resulted in an unnecessary trip to the burn ward for this young man. Tragic. You deserve the opportunity to learn and observe, and if safe to do so, and under the direct supervision by the Fire Captain to get as much hands on experience as possible. But not getting hurt in the process. This is a classic example of what the difference is between Boy Scouts and firefighters. Adult supervision... This apparently did not exist with the burned JrFF's department.

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