Wilmington FD accepting applications for summer Junior Fire Academy

Two sessions are being offered this year, one that runs from June 26-30, and another that will take place July 24-28.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 8:35 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s not uncommon for kids to wish to be a police officer or a firefighter when they grow up.

Now, teens getting ready to enter the workforce can make those dreams a career.

High school students who are interested in becoming a firefighter can get some firsthand experience this summer during Wilmington Fire Department’s third Junior Fire Academy.

This free academy will cover the necessary skills for firefighters and crucial life skills.

Two sessions are being offered this year, one that runs from June 26-30, and another that will take place July 24-28. The academy runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday. A graduation ceremony and a cookout for friends and family will follow the completion of the academy.

Fire officials say the program is critical for the department.

“We want to see as many as possible come through our door so they can get a feel for what this career could look like for them. I think a lot of people don’t know that this is an option for them until they see it firsthand. So we’re really excited and we hope that this can bring us some recruits in the future,” said Rebekah Thurston, Wilmington Fire Department public information officer.

The students will learn life-saving skills like CPR, how to use a fire extinguisher and first aid, as well as trying on the turnout gear, searching for a victim and taking a scaled-down version of the firefighter physical agility test.

The hope is for participants to one day join the Wilmington Fire Department, but instructors say the goal is much bigger than that.

“We’re actually giving you the opportunity to come here, Monday through Friday, have a good time, enjoy being with the crew, being with us at the station and seeing everything that happens. And really hearing how the calls come out, how they’re dispatched, and then getting to see the firefighters in action,” said Nicholas Shepard, Junior Fire Academy instructor.

The department takes 15 students per session on a first-come, first-served basis. About half of the spots per session are already filled up, so those interested are encouraged to apply now.

Teens who have participated in one of the past academies are not eligible to apply this year for new teens to experience the academy. However, Junior Fire Academy 2.0 is a new, single-day academy taking place on June 12th for anyone, including previous academy graduates.

Applications can be submitted through an online form here, by dropping off a printed hard copy at WFD Headquarters at 801 Market St in Wilmington or emailing a copy to Rebekah.Thurston@wilmingtonnc.gov.