NEWINGTON - Local firefighters are inviting teens to start learning their craft at an earlier age.
The Newington Volunteer Fire Department’s Cadet Division is now open to 14- and 15-year-olds, who can join 16- and 17-year-old cadets in the program for the first time this year.
An open house for interested applicants is set for this Sunday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Station 5, located at 617 Maple Hill Ave.
Cadets typically meet for a few hours on Sundays throughout the year for training activities, generally held at Station 5. Unlike other types of courses, participants graduate at different times - not as a single class.
When they turn 18 they receive a certificate for program completion. At that point, they can apply to join the NVFD as volunteer firefighters or look for paid positions at other departments.
Now teens have a chance to get started on this path well before they graduate high school and head out into the world.
“It gets their feet in the door a lot earlier,” Cadet Captain Daniel Durity said this week.
Durity, who has been serving the town the last seven years, was a Newington Cadet Divison graduate himself.
“It teaches kids a great sense of responsibility and is an all around good experience for them growing up,” he pointed out. “It’s a tradition I wanted to keep going.”
The Connecticut Department of Labor, Commission on Fire Prevention and Control and the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association regulate cadet and junior volunteer firefighting programs. Kids aren’t allowed to participate in risky or dangerous activities.
“We don’t do any live fire training,” Durity said. “We follow a strict set of guidelines.”
A physical assessment by a physician is required before participation.
Sunday’s open house will feature live demonstrations by firefighters, a cookout for families and other activities.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.