Area boys and girls will have the opportunity to “explore” firefighting as a career thanks to a new partnership between Eagle Matt Lee Fire Company No. 1 and the Saratoga County Boy Scouts, according to information from both organizations.
Bill Lewis, a member of the fire company, said he has been planning the partnership as part of the Boy Scout’s Explorer program for almost two years, a program allowing youths to get a chance to learn the ropes of a new profession at an early age.
“It sparks interest in younger kids to see if they are interested in the fire service. They can come and see what we do,” Lewis said.
Lewis is the chairman of a committee set up to help integrate the fire company and the Boy Scout’s Explorer program, but Lewis said all boys and girls are welcome to join, even if they are not part of the Boy Scouts. There will be two open house events, one on Saturday, Jan. 15 and the other on Sat. Jan. 29, geared toward giving anyone interested a chance to see what fire fighter’s do on a regular basis.
Part of the Explorer program involves coming to drills and shadowing the firefighters. The participants will be bystanders with minimal participation, since some of the participants are as young as 14-years old, Lewis said.
The Explorer members will have their own meetings, rules and guidelines.
“Its basically to show them structure and functionality,” Lewis said.
Lewis said one of the reasons for bringing the program into the fire company, based out of the Village of Ballston Spa and covering the Village, parts of Milton and the Town of Ballston, is the declining amount of volunteer firefighters. He estimated the average age of the Eagle Matt Lee Fire Company No. 1 at close to 40, and there are no trainees in the company.
The Explorer program will be a precursor to the junior firefighter program, which is more intensive and allows the participants to come along on calls, and helps get those serious about a career in firefighting prepared.
Fred Harris, Saratoga district executive for the Boy Scouts, said so far the Explorer program has been a success, with opportunities for youngsters to learn about careers emergency medical services, engineering and with police and New York State Troopers.
“Our Explorer program and our council, we’ve grown tremendously,” Harris said. “This is what some of the kid want to see.”
There are almost 300 participants county-wide, he said.
The open house will be for kids aged 14 to 18 years old, and will run from noon to 2 p.m. on both Saturdays at the fire house located at 35 Washington Street in the Village of Ballston Spa.
Information stations will be set up for both the Explorer and junior firefighter programs, according to information provided by the fire company. Firefighters will be on hand demonstrating equipment and giving tours of the station.
Call the station at 518-885- 6261 for information.