Earlier this month the Wellesley Fire Department and the Wellesley Youth Commission hosted their annual Wellesley Fire Rescuers Camp. Kids ages 12-14 spent the week at the fire station seeing the different aspects of firefighter life.
Lt. Paul Delaney and Chief Rick DeLorie started this camp 20 years ago, and over the years more than one camper has gone on to be a firefighter. The camp is back after a couple of years of COVID cancellations.
The week began with a presentation of the history of the Fire Service and a tour of the station. Deputy Matt Corda helped each of the campers dress up in firefighter turnout gear. This included the airpack and tools, which totaled 60 pounds.
The day ended with a ride in the bucket of the ladder truck. Each camper wore a special firefighter harness and clipped into the bucket as a safety measure while Lieutenant Gerrans and Firefighter Brady raised the ladder up. The kids got a view that only the firefighters usually get to see.
Campers used the Jaws of Life to cut up a car donated by Roadside Rescue. In the event of a serious car accident, access to the patient in the vehicle inside can be difficult. As a result, firefighters use the Jaws of Life to cut the car away from the patient. Lt. Gerrans and Lt. Delaney helped the kids use the heavy tools to remove the doors and roof. By the end it looked like a convertible. They then talked about the safety features of the car that protect the driver and passengers by setting off an airbag.
Day 3 started out with a demonstration of prying open a locked door. Firefighters prefer to use keys to access a building during an alarm as this limits unwanted destruction. In the event of a fire when time and speed are important, firefighters will use their tools to break through a door and gain access to a building. A recently purchased door prop allows firefighters to practice a technique known as forcible entry with tools. Campers worked in teams of two to break through the door prop.
One of the highlights of the week was the visit from a Medflight helicopter and crew. Medflight is the equivalent of a flying ambulance that is used when there is serious trauma as you see in a car accident. The pilot landed their helicopter on the Fiske School field and conducted a drill with firefighters while the campers watched. After the drill the children talked with the helicopter crew. Afterwards they sat in the helicopter.
The camp was not just fun but there was an educational component of well. Campers learned the science behind a fire. Deputy Corda taught the Fire Triangle where heat, oxygen, and fuel are needed in order to start a fire. Campers applied this knowledge to
build a safe campfire at Morses Pond using magnesium and materials found in the woods. Hunnewell Farms provided a bail of straw and the campers then applied the same principles from the morning to put out a fire with extinguishers.
The week finished up with a field trip to the Massachusetts Fire Academy in Stow, where campers got a tour of the campus. Every firefighter in Massachusetts attends the 11-week program at the academy and learns the basics of the job. The program covers extinguishing fires, raising ladders, and search and rescue of trapped victims, vehicle extrication, and hazardous materials. The campers got a behind-the-scenes tour of the campus and even were allowed to walk through the burn building. This is a three-story concrete building where live fire training occurs.
Applications for the free Fire Rescuers and other youth camps typically become available early each year, so mark your calendars for early 2022.
(Thanks to Wellesley Fire Department’s Matt Corda and Paul Delaney for sharing this summary and photo collection).