WESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Extension is holding its 14th Annual Jr. Firefighter Camp between June 18 and June 23.

The Jr. Firefighter Camp gives campers experience on what it’s like to be a firefighter but in a safer manner. This camp helps young adults make the decision to become firefighters when they’re older. The Extension is hoping this camp will continue to increase the number of volunteers or paid firefighters in the state.

People from different states, ranging in ages of 14 through 17, will spend five days learning and doing firefighter drills.

On Sunday, June 19, the junior firefighters had their first morning and afternoon of training sessions, where their “companies” rotate through five drills. The drills included:

  • Aerial Ops
  • Search and Rescue
  • Car Fire
  • Extinguisher Fire
  • Ground Ladders

The camp has propane switches to monitor the amount of gas being used in the car that can be turned off at any time.

Each day, a different camper is in charge of their company crews and have to do “Personnel Accountability Reports” (PAR). A company officer is in charge of maintaining the group of firefighters and where they are located.

A company volunteers to raise their Jr. Firefighter flag every morning out of respect for those who serve our country. When the flag raises or lowers, the young adults salute the entire way through.

Ralph McNemar, deputy director of the West Virginia State Fire Academy, had mentioned that they wanted to come up with something to do for younger kids that were interested in being firefighters back in 2008.

“We get so much joy out of it. Not only do we get to see their growth while they’re here this week, inevitably, at some point, we’ll go out and teach a class, and one of them will come up and say ‘hey I went to Jr. Camp.’ We’ve had many examples of, you know, we see our T-shirts out around when we go out and teach firefighter classes, and we’re gonna see them out there somewhere along the road.”

In previous years, the camp has had around 115 to 130 campers. Within the years of COVID-19, the number of campers were knocked down. This year, they have 73 campers.

McNemar said he is hoping that what they teach the young adults will not only help them choose to become firefighters, but that it will help them become better people no matter what career they decide to go in to.

For those interested in joining the camp next year, McNemar said to, “check with your fire chief, we send out the information to all the fire departments in the state, and we post it to our Facebook page, as well as our fire service extension website. We post all of the information as soon as we know the dates.”

McNemar thanked everyone for the support. One thing he wanted everyone to know is that the Extension is always looking for people to fund the campers. Right now, campers are paying $375 to participate in the camp, this includes meals, lodging and required T-shirts. However, the camp wants to get to a point where they do not have to charge.

You can reach out to the Fire Service Extension by:
Phone: (304) 269-0875
Email: FireService@mail.wvu.edu