Maggie Lind is about four years away from being able to join a fire department, but that isn’t stopping her from learning today what it takes to be a firefighter.
“When I turn 18, I will be on the Poy Sippi Fire Department,” said the 14 year old. “It just interests me, and I know all the guys on our fire department.”
Among the guys on that department are her father, Brad, and her uncle, Bruce.
Since she was 5 years old, the Weyauwega-Fremont High School freshman has been planning to someday join the department.
On Saturday, March 26, Lind was one of six area teens who got a glimpse of what firefighters do during the Weyauwega Fire Department’s second annual Firefighter Experience Camp.
“One of the reasons why we chose to do this is to expose the community to it and, hopefully, get some to consider joining the department here or in other neighboring communities,” said Weyauwega Fire Chief Jim Baehnman.
It seems to be working.
Two out of the 10 teens that participated last year “ended up being accepted on the fire department and are currently going through firefighting basic training class through Fox Valley Technical College,” he said.
In fact, while the camp was taking place at the fire station, those two recruits were at school.
Like last year, the camp was open to 14 to 18 year olds.
“You can’t join until you’re 18 and have graduated from high school,” Baehnman said. “Last year, we had a few that wanted to join right away. We told them they had to graduate high school first.”
During the Firefighter Experience Camp, students spent time working in four different areas. They included wearing a breathing apparatus, learning about water movement, receiving ladder training and participating in extractions.
The fire chief said those areas were chosen because they are easy to demonstrate, are exciting for the students, and are the primary things that the volunteer firefighters do.
The camp was open to not only youth from the Weyauwega-Fremont school but to teens from other area schools.
Broghan Cullen is 18 and a senior at Waupaca High School. He learned about the camp from his uncle, Tom Cullen, who is on the Weyauwega Fire Department and who asked him if he would be interested in participating.
He was interested and with plans to study law enforcement at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Cullen thought the camp would be a good experience for him.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
Now, he has a better idea of what is involved in being a firefighter and says he might consider being on a department in the future.
Alexis Kloehn is also thinking about joining a fire department someday.
The 15 year old is a freshman at Weyauwega-Fremont High School and said, “I’ve been around this all my life. They convinced me to try it out for a day.”
Her father, Lloyd, is a member of the Weyauwega Fire Department, and she found the camp to be interesting.
Baehnman said the camp was open to area teens, because the local fire departments are all partners.
Departments lent the Weyauwega department extra gear for the students to wear, and the Waupaca Fire Department’s aerial truck was used for part of the ladder training.
Baehnman said the camp is held at this time of year, because it is a time when there are not many conflicting school activities under way.