A weeklong, hands-on course puts new explorer recruits through a battery of interviews and rigorous physical activities.
Jeremy Ward, a Tracy firefighter, paramedic and program adviser, said the department’s 23 explorers gain an advantage if they decide to enroll in fire academy training.
“This is an excellent course that teaches the kids what to expect at the academy,” Ward said. “This program also exposes them to a paramilitary-type environment and a level of accountability and respect. In addition, the program is a great outlet to serve our community and build basic life skills.”
Recruitment takes place the first two weeks in April, and training begins in June. The course starts with an interview process, during which 10 to 15 explorers are selected to enter the department’s recruit academy.
“The fire explorers program helps young adults see what the fire service is all about,” said Dylan McCrary, 19-year-old post chief. “Going through this helps one decide if this is their career path.”
Next up are the physical agility tests: dragging weighted dummies, pulling hoses, raising equipment up to a second story and completing a military bearings course.
This is followed by timed drills and turnout fitting, in which recruits must assemble and put on full firefighting gear.
Jake Tanner, 16, is among the recruits.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Tanner said. “I did this because I am looking to be with Cal Fire Forestry Wildlife and wanted to know what to expect. You really learn a lot through this program.”
Tracy Fire Explorer Post 900 is funded by private donations. During a Tracy City Council meeting in June, the program received $5,000 from the local AAA branch.
Branch manager Jane Drymon said the gift was intended in part as a thank-you to local emergency crews.
“Our efforts are focused on actively aiding those first responders, those men and women that rescue us from danger,” Drymon said. “We greatly appreciate all you do to strengthen, rescue and protect our community.”
The third class of explorer recruits is scheduled to graduate later this summer.
For more information on this program, contact Tracy fire administration at 831-6700.
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