The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Nihal Karim

The explorers practice folding the fire shelter after watching a firefighter demonstrate how.

The San Mateo County Fire Explorer Program builds firefighting skills

The San Mateo County Fire (SMCF) Explorer Program is a youth program designed for career exploration in the fire department.

The program is taught by professional firefighters, and aims to teach skills related to fire service and more.

“The main objective of this program is career exploration in law enforcement, fire service, and public safety,” said Steve Wilburn, a fire apparatus engineer paramedic.

In addition to the firefighting experience the participants gain throughout the program, teamwork and leadership skills are also developed in action.

“This program teaches you discipline and allows you to gain various leadership skills,” said Justin Da San Martino, the post liaison. “You also improve as a public speaker and learn how to dress and act in a professional manner.”

Though the program is aimed at those who are interested in pursuing a career within the fire department, many of the explorers are interested in different career paths.

“I joined because I was interested in the medical field,” said Kat Sharonin, one of the explorers. “I learned a lot of things about firefighting and general medical procedures.”

However, those who plan to pursue a career within the fire department joined in order to learn more information about fire service and explore what career opportunities they might have in the field in the future.

“I joined about a year ago because I knew I wanted to become a firefighter,” said Reed Berg, one of the explorers. “We do a lot of hands-on activities here, which helped me improve my skills.”

According to Da San Martino, the explorers get the opportunity to participate in ride-alongs for four, eight, or 12 hour shifts.

“These ride-alongs are helpful because you get to learn more about firefighting and the engine,” Da San martino said. “Explorers who are older than 18 can also stay at the station overnight. The post is like your second home.”

According to Sharonin, the explorer program also counts as community service.

“I learned a lot about community participation while being a part of this program,” Sharonin said. “Many of the things we learn here are applicable to to the real world, compared to what some of the other community service programs might have to offer.”

They participate in community events around the San Mateo County as representatives for the fire department.

“We helped out with traffic at the Highlands Walk and Job Carnival recently, and plan on doing more community events in the future,” Da San Martino said. “The fire department helps the community and so do we.”

The SMCF Explorer Program usually takes recruits twice a year. Though the applications are currently closed, they reopen in August 2018.

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