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LF-R Explorers, Junior Firefighters excel

Posted: March 25, 2014 7:47 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Fire departments and technology centers from all over South Carolina sent firefighting Explorers and Junior Firefighters to compete in a competition at the S.C. Fire Academy in Columbia on March 8. The academy asked crews from Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R) to coordinate the event after a successful similar event at the S.C. Firefighter’s Association Conference in June 2013. One hundred forty-eight individual Explorers and Junior Firefighters and 24 teams competed at this first-annual event during the annual Southeastern Fire School.

While adult firefighters participated in training exercises, the youth began the day with a bus tour of the entire academy and had a free lunch sponsored by the International Fire Service Training Association. The competition began after lunch. The youth competed in individual gear donning, team gear donning and team hose deployment scenarios using team leaders from the respective departments as judges. Statisticians from the academy and outside departments were brought in to total the scores while the youth finished the competition in the afternoon.

“This was the first Explorer and Junior Firefighter competition at Southeastern Fire School and it was a tremendous honor for our staff to coordinate this event as well as participate and represent Lugoff Fire-Rescue on the state level. All the teams and youth did a fantastic job of competing professionally and the turnout was tremendous,” LF-R Chief Dennis Ray said. “We really enjoyed fellowshipping with everyone from around the state. I commend Captain Hinson and all the staff assigned to help with this event for a well-organized and executed event as I continue to receive positive feedback from departments around the state. I also appreciate Rick Dunn at the South Carolina Fire Academy for working alongside us from the Fire Academy to make sure this event was safe and successful.”

Ray said the competition brought back good memories, as he started as an Explorer himself.

“I actually began my career as a Junior Fire Fighter and Explorer, so my heart is near and dear to the program. I was told years ago that I was the future of the fire service and it felt really good to be able to tell this group the same thing,” Ray said. “You don’t know where you’re going to, and now here I am, the chief of a very progressive department in South Carolina. I’m proud of our Explorer post, proud of the leaders who take time to lead our Explorers and of our paid staff who train the Explorers at the station. They all work hard and do an excellent job.”

Lugoff Explorers ended up winning big by the end of the day. Hunter Brazell took second place in the Male Gear Donning, Christina Kirk and Amber Terry took first and second place, respectively, in the Female Gear Donning. Lugoff Explorers also took first place in the Team Gear Donning event. In more local success, Camden Fire Department (CFD) Explorer Matthew Gallhorn won first place in Male Gear Donning while CFD Team 1 won second place in the Team Hose Deployment event. All winners received a trophy and medallion. All participants received a T-shirt and challenge coin for participating.

All Explorers and Junior Firefighters from around the state will now begin preparing for the 2014 competition at the S.C. Firefighter’s Association annual training conference, June 12 in Myrtle Beach. LF-R crews will be coordinating that event again this year and a new adult competition to be launched the same afternoon.

(The online version of this story has been corrected so that the caption underneath the picture correctly identified the female Explorer, third from the left, as Christina Kirk, and not Amber Terry as first published.)

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