Explorers Program

Being a firefighter with the City of Sumter has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. The family atmosphere around the service as a whole is something I strongly believe you will not find in any other profession that exists today. Like many, my journey began out of curiosity at a very young age. Lucky for me I had friends who shared the same interest as I did in the fire service, and who were already beginning to take part in fire service activities through a program called the Sumter Fire Department Explorers

The Explorer program offered though the Sumter Fire Department was brought to my attention while I was in high school. A program that readied its students for a future career in the fire service seemed like a great opportunity to get a head start, so I enrolled in the Explorer program. There was a one-page application I was given by one of my friends, who gave me instructions to fill it out, get my parents' signature and bring it to their next meeting which ended up being my first day in the program.

When I showed up to my first meeting with the explorers I wasn't really sure what to expect. I figured the program would be more community-based activities, but I was given a book and told that we would be covering fire behavior for the first hour and then proceeding to do a gear drill shortly after. To my surprise, the Explorer program was geared more towards the actual knowledge and skills that certified Firefighters needed to do their jobs. Throughout my time in the Explorer Program, we covered many skills such as; fire hose rolls, fire hose loads, search and rescue techniques, the science of fire and the gear we wear to protect us from some of the dangers associated with firefighting.

One of the things I loved the most about the Explorer Program was the preparation for the Firefighter Combat Challenge. This combat challenge is a friendly competition between departments from all over the state in which certified Firefighters complete timed skill stations. These skill stations include but are not limited to; Charged hose-line drags, connecting hoses to hydrants, gear drill stations (where firefighters must fully don their protective equipment including SCBA), 180lbs manikin drags, and keiser machine exercises. At most competitions when the certified Firefighters have completed their portion, the Explorer students from different departments would then compete against each other. The Sumter Fire Department Explorers have actually brought back a 1st place trophy from the Combat Challenge at the Myrtle Beach Fire Convention, which is South Carolinas largest yearly convention for Firefighters.

The Sumter Fire Departments Explorer Program significantly contributed to my progress to becoming a career Firefighter. It is a program that feeds the knowledge and skills that a young interested mind will need to one day pursue a job in the most rewarding career field a person could have.

David Walker
Sumter Fire Department