By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The fire department has developed a new program for adolescents and young adults interested in the fire service.
Firefighters launched Explorer Post 511 in November. They partnered with the organization Learning for Life, a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America, to bring the new program to Lynnfield.
Explorer Post 511 gives its members, ages 14-21, first-hand experience working as a full-time firefighter, call firefighter and paramedic. The post’s members participate in firefighter training programs and can attend ride- alongs during actual fire calls. There are similar Explorer Posts offered by fire departments across the United States.
Fire Chief Mark Tetreault decided to bring the Explorer program to Lynnfield after being involved with a similar program while serving as Barnstead, N.H.’s fire chief from 2010-2014. Barnstead’s Explorer Post was profiled by WMUR’S “New Hampshire Chronicle” in December 2013.
“It’s a great way to get the youth of Lynnfield interested in the fire service,” said Tetreault.
Tetreault began his career in the fire service when he joined Franklin, N.H.’s Explorer Post as a teenager in 1980.
“I had no interest in becoming a firefighter before I joined the Explorer Post,” said Tetreault. “But after I joined the program, I discovered the fire service was a passion of mine.”
After Tetreault completed the program, Franklin hired him as a call firefighter in 1982.
“By the time I turned 18, I was ready to go,” recalled Tetreault.
Firefighter/paramedic Richard Ripley is in charge of Explorer Post 511, whose name pays tribute to the fire department’s former radio call sign. He said the fire department began developing the program several months ago and Explorer Post 511 has already held two meetings.
“The program is in its infant stages and is going very well,” said Ripley. “It’s a great way to raise awareness about the fire service and EMS.”
Ripley and Tetreault said six young men have attended Explorer Post 511’s first two meetings. Ripley said Explorer Post 511’s members are in charge of its meetings and have already elected officers. Additionally, the program’s members have learned to set up fire infrastructure and have learned about the history of the fire service.
“It gives students a hands-on approach as well as teach academic knowledge,” said Ripley.
Tetreault said Explorer Post 511 will be covering a variety of different topics at future meetings such as CPR/first aid, using fire equipment properly and vehicle extraction. Additionally, the program will teach members about emergency call protocols, firefighting policies and procedures and team building.
Ripley said he has enjoyed being involved with Explorer Post 511.
“It’s been great introducing young people to a potential career path,” said Ripley. “Young minds are like sponges. They absorb all kinds of information, whereas adults sometimes get side tracked. This will give adolescents exposure to the fire service before they choose a career path.”
Tetreault and Ripley are looking to expand the program and are looking for new members, both men and women, to join.
“It’s open to everyone who is interested in joining the fire service,” said Tetreault.
“The program has been well received and we are looking to help the program evolve,” said Ripley.
In addition to introducing the fire service to members, Tetreault said Explorer Post 511 may help its members realize the fire service is “not the right profession” for them.
If residents are interested in joining Explorer Post 511, call Tetreault at 781-334-5152. Townspeople will be required to fill out an application.