Junior firefighters earn 1st place in relay event

* Video

WARRENTON, N.C. — Eight junior firefighters with East Rockingham Fire Department operated under the direction of Lt. Jeff Collins April 26 and April 27 in the 4th annual Warren County Junior Firefighters Competition in Warrenton.

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

Nick Pait, Hayden Burns, Brenden Watson, Kendell Watson, John Quick, John Smith, Zac Sharpe and Ryan Stubbs teamed up to capture first place in the firefighter relay event.

The events began with a social meet and greet at the Warrenton Rural Fire Department. Will Heath, a firefighter and EMT with the town of Carolina Beach, was the guest speaker for an evening that included dinner, door prizes, live DJ music and gifts. Each participant received a set of $60 ESS Firefighting Safety Goggles that were donated by the ESS Corporation.

On Saturday, nearly 150 junior firefighters descend upon the Warren County Recreation Complex for written and verbal competitions. Keynote speaker for the event was Cloyce Anders, the regional director of the Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Service of North Carolina, a major sponsor of the competition. Some teams came from as far away as Tennessee and Cass County, Texas.

The written test that quizzed the junior firefighters on content related to Firefighter I state certification was created by the fire and rescue division of Vance-Granville Community College. Burns and Pait represented East Rockingham Fire Department Juniors for the written exam portion. Burns placed 14th out of 32 contestants.

The verbal competition required junior firefighters to explain the use of firefighting tools in a variety of scenarios. Brenden Watson and Smith competed in an equipment identification exam. Identifying the type of adapters or couplings needed to connect different size hoses were among the questions fielded by these juniors.

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

By Saturday afternoon, the junior firemen were primed for timed field competitions. A Rise and Shine event required the young people to race each other, starting from a lying position, run 25 feet, dress in a full protective gear including a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and fast-walk a final 25 feet. The Stretcher Bearer was the next team event. Four-person teams had to negotiate an obstacle course while carrying a Stokes Basket. Once the team had made it through the course on time, they had to return to the start line, bringing back a 180-pound rescue dummy on a stretcher.

In addition to a water tug-of-war, the juniors battled in an event known as Command Post. In this competition, one firefighter stood in a swimming pool and yelled directions to teammates who were shooting water while wearing blackout goggles.

John Franks, advisor to host Warren County Explorer Post 672, underscored the importance of these groups to their communities.

“Junior firefighter programs throughout North Carolina and beyond are where fire departments get their next generation of firefighters,” Franks said. “Without the programs, it would get harder and harder to recruit future firefighters.”

Generous sponsors helped these young men have an opportunity to test their firefighting knowledge and physical skills against competitors from several states. The following businesses and organizations made it possible for the East Rockingham Fire Department junior firefighters to represent Richmond County: Arlo’s Wrecker Service, Big K Propane, Edward’s IGA, Affordable Painting Plus, Mini Maxi Self-Storage, Sandhills Office Supply, East Rockingham firemen, Maness Tire, Superior Crane, Murphy Electrical Supply, Perhealth Trucking, Ranco Auto Sales and McNair Auto Sales.

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