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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While the PPE not being worn properly was a factor in the severity of the injuries it most certainly was not the reason for the injuries.

The reasons for this youth's injuries go far beyond this single incident to a complete failure of this fire department. 

1)  A lack of leadership from the Chief all the way down to the "junior" officers.  The one thing that I wish was better defined is the definition of "junior" officers.  Does this mean younger adult members that are officers, or does it mean underage junior members that are officers of the youth group.

2)  Incompetent, inadequate, and under trained officers in charge of this so called "Training." 

3)  The use of flammable liquids, GASOLINE in particular, during a controlled burn that is part of a so called training.  Add to that the EXCESSIVE amount of gasloine used, 2 1/2 gallons.

4)  Having people either on the pile or in close enough proximity to the pile to be injured during ignition of the brush pile.

This incident should not be used as a reaon NOT to have a jr FF program. Such programs do work well if done correctly and moreso those programs that are affiliated with Explorers and the Learning for Life. Explorer programs have guidelines stipulated by the parent organization....jr programs can be established by any FD and part of the issue when you have incompetent adults who think it is OK to utilize children in a FF capacity.

Got to agree with Don. The PPE issue is one aspect at hand, there is just too much else at hand contributing beyond PPE. Quite frankly the kid should have never been involved in this training, let alone close enough to get burned.

I've seen a junior who has left school when our by laws say you cannot and I've seen another who has started our propane christmas tree(without PPE) and he refused even at the chief's insistence that he shouldn't but he still did because he listened to daddy over chief(he quit a month later). I did not leave a drill until 11 o'clock one night because I didn't have my PPE yet and it is a required item for all juniors(hard to not call us cadets because that is what we are). I mostly have my camera with me so If i get in the way its because I am the official unofficial Fire Dept. photographer. Which in my opinion was why I almost over stated observing because if its live fire training I cannot get any closer than our main engine which sits maybe 100-150 ft away from the fire.

I have to agree with John here. This incident is NOT a reason to eliminate Junior/explorer/cadet programs. It is however a reason to have a well thought out, well planned, properly supervised, safety based program, that educates youth in the workings of the fire service.

I have not hidden my disdain for those that use these youth as additional manpower at incidents placing them in harms way. That is NOT, and was NEVER MEANT TO BE, the purpose of these youth programs. Education and training while giving them a taste of firehouse life was the purpose to help them decide if the fire service was a career they wished to pursue. The thought that placing these underage youth in harms way is in any way acceptable is simply ludicrous to me. As a parent of a son that followed me into the fire service there is no way I could have accepted, or in anyway justified in my mind, my son being exposed to something as ridiculous as 2 1/2 gallons of gasoline poured onto a brush pile and ignited in the guise of a training. Heads need to roll for this and it should start with the chief and roll downhill from there. The officer that ran this "training" needs to be removed from any responsibility for training or leading other firefighters. I believe a complete audit of training and qualifications for ALL the officers of this department is in order.

This was a tragic event that was caused by improper training practices and leadership failure.

Gasoline should never be used to start any type of training. Diesel is an alternative but should generally be avoided.

I run with a department that has a really good junior program. We are not an explorer post but we have specific rules that the juniors must follow. They are not to go into any burning building or be near fire. Their role on the fireground is to observe and help with such things as repacking hose, changing cylinders, and getting water for those who are exiting the building if rehab has not had enough time to set up.

In the training setting we teach them how to manage a hoseline, the basics of SCBA, where the equipment is, ladder, and other things. They are not allowed to use power tools or any hydraulic tools until they are an adult. We never train them on a live fire exercise.

Junior programs and explorer programs are very beneficial but they needed to be closely watched by responsible leaders.    

Chief Wolcott said,"They were gonna use a little bit of gas and it was just a little too much gas."


Do ya' really think so, Captain Obvious?!

Nice comparison that should be noted.....a gallon of gasoline is the equivalent of 20 sticks of dynamite.


These clowns thought 45 sticks of "dynamite" was necessary to light a training fire.





Yeah, I would hope some discipline is dropped from the state on this so called "fire dept"

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