Wilmington Fire Department trains first junior firefighters

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Fire Department held its first Jr. Fire Academy this week, aimed at training and teaching high schoolers like firefighters and hopefully inspiring some to don the helmet after graduation.

“A lot of things we did is stuff we do when we get hired on the first day,” said Michael Lee, a master firefighter. “Just to kind of show them what goes into it and what it takes to be a fire fighter.”

WFD used elaborate obstacle courses and competitions to light a fire in students without hosing down daily difficulties firefighters face.

“It’s really cool to see their excitement and their passion for helping other people,” said public information officer Rebekah Thurston, “and how that can translate one day into their career, whether that was firefighting or not.”

Patrick Lewis is a senior at Laney High School and comes from a family of firefighters. He said today’s training and lessons in emergency management have made everything feel more real.

“Putting on the outfits and stuff. Getting to kind of experience how it would be like if I were to pursue this dream that I have,” Lewis beamed.

Though the program didn’t actually feature running into burning buildings, it did answer students’ burning questions. Lee hopes it will help to fill the almost 30 Wilmington Fire positions that will open after the current fire academy finishes.

“We’re hoping that this put’s something in these young fellas minds, that they could be fire fighters as well,” said Lee.

Lighting the way for students like Lewis, and other future Wilmington firefighters.

“It’s just always something I’ve wanted to do when I was younger and stuff,” said Lewis. “But like, this actually is driving me even more.”

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