Future firefighters undergo training

John Irwin news@echo-pilot.com
Evan Shatzer of Greencastle, a junior member of the Marion Volunteer Fire Co., was among the cadets who attended the Franklin County Junior Firefighter Academy. JOHN IRWIN/ECHO PILOT

The Franklin County Public Safety Training Center acted as a classroom last week for young men and women who are interested in becoming firefighters and emergency responders.

More than 30 students at the Franklin County Junior Firefighter Academy listened to classroom lectures where instructors discussed topics that included fire scene safety and protocol as well as attention to detail when communicating with dispatch and fellow emergency personnel.

“The training and speakers motivate us and help us learn the tricks of the trade. I’ve learned tons of new stuff,” said Evan Shatzer of Greencastle, a junior member of Marion Volunteer Fire Co. “Leadership and teamwork skills are brought out here at the training center.”

Real-world training is also a major component of the annual program. Wednesday, cadets turned their focus to proper ladder handling as well as ascending and descending a 105-foot ladder attached to a ladder truck.

“It was my first time climbing the ladder. I liked it. I don’t mind heights,” said Josh Mays of Waynesboro. Allen McFerren added, “It’s all about keeping your emotions in check and under control.”

A unique experience for this class of cadets was the opportunity to get a first-hand look at a three-alarm fire Sunday afternoon, July 14, on West Washington Street in downtown Chambersburg.

“The cadets had just finished registering when the call came in,” explained instructor Ben Holmquist, deputy chief of New Franklin Fire Co.

The cadets were transported to the scene to assist in rolling up hose lines for the multiple companies responding to the fire that heavily damaged Nana's Wash House and several apartment buildings.

“The personnel down there really appreciated it. It’s a reputable thing that we were able to do and an awesome opportunity for them,” Holmquist explained.

“The dedication of the firefighters who oversee this program is amazing,” Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas said during a visit to the junior firefighter academy. “Many of them take a full week off and use their vacation to do this each year. They are investing in the students so when some day they are not able to do this that someone else will be there to step in. This program leaves a lasting impact on their lives.”

For more information on the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center visit: