JACKSON TWP.  Fifteen members of the Ohio Fire Explorers and the Junior Firefighters came out early in the morning June 4 to test their speed and accuracy. They competed in a variety of activities such as gear donning, team hose deployment, search and rescue, fire stream accuracy, hose tower relay and more. 

The event was held at the Stark State College Fire Science Building. Members of several local fire departments came to assist in the competitions, including Canal Fulton Fire Captain Shawn Yerian who coordinated the daylong event.

“The competitions are designed so that they simulate what firefighters have to do when they receive a call, when firefighters receive an emergency call, they have to put on their gear and get ready as quickly as possible.” Yerian said.  “This is the first year for the event. We approached Stark State College about using their site and they agreed."

Participants started the morning by learning about the Fire Science program at Stark State. Yerian said the goal of the event is for students who want to become firefighters to learn skils and techniques locally and then stay and work locally. 

“We also want some of the Explorers to become advisors for the Explorer program,” said Larry Gerger, retired firefighter from Canton who was volunteering for the day.  “Techniques and equipment keep changing and getting lighter and more efficient and it’s better to have the newly trained firefighters to work as advisors to the incoming Explorers. So we’re hoping some of the participants want to go on to become program advisors,” he said. 

Gerger said that the Explorer program allows students from local middle schools and high schools to try out a profession such as becoming a firefighter before they dedicate time to it and realize it’s not a good fit. He said the program and the competition is also a good way for the participants to meet kids from other school districts and to network. 

Students worked and competed individually and in teams. Certificates were given for the best times for each activity. Award winners were as follows:

- Overall Challenge Award: Sam Wykoff, who is a graduate of Jackson High School

Gear Donning 2-minute drill: Sam Wykoff

Hose Tower Relay: Sam Wykoff, Jake Morton and Herbert Trenton

Search & Rescue maze: Sam Wykoff and Dan Courtney

Hose Control: Herbert Trenton and Logan Kornick

Hose Relay: Jake Morton, Sam Wykoff, Jared Hagen and Jackson Wendell

Yerian said they also awarded certificates to Stark State College and Mission BBQ who donated the lunch. 

Career Exploring programs, according to ohioexploring.org, delivers real-world experience for teens and young adults between the ages of 14 to 20. The program is delivered through thousands of businesses, organizations, state, local and federal agencies. There are Explorer programs for police and fire and other types of careers.