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The junior fire department is serious, too

Kidsday reporter John Valencia at the Valley Stream

Kidsday reporter John Valencia at the Valley Stream firehouse. Credit: Valencia family

When my dad first went to become a volunteer fireman I was in kindergarten. I remember loving all the people at my dad’s firehouse who were my dad’s new friends. I also remember loving all of the junior fire department members. So I always hung out with my dad there every chance I could.

The older men became really good friends with my family. They soon came to our parties, and we celebrated New Year’s and Christmas together too. When I was older my dad always encouraged me to get in the junior fire department, but I wouldn’t budge. I already considered myself a member of the junior fire department because I went to the fire house so much. My father always said it was different and I would learn a lot. It would also be very easy to communicate with other kids because I was already friends with all the juniors and all the kids who were the children of my dad’s friends. When I was much older, I finally agreed.

For my first meeting, I thought I would get my gear and a pager and start learning. That’s not how it is though. They make you go to three meetings first before you can officially join. I later learned that meetings are every Friday and this junior fire department wasn’t a regular everyday kids meeting. When I first signed up I thought there was no work and you didn’t have to remember anything you learned during the meetings. I also thought it was about fooling around and having a good time.

When I first joined and was talking and fooling around, the chief (a 14-year-old kid) got mad at me. I thought they were jokers, but they were serious. These kids had jobs or responsibilities like chief, officer and secretary. Steven, my friend since first grade, has been in the junior fire department for years now, so he gave me some advice. His advice helped me in the littlest of ways: He told me not to talk and pay attention, of course.

I love the junior fire department because they open up a whole new world of fire safety and techniques to take out fires. So next time someone tells you to do something fun like my dad did, try it out, you might be surprised.

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