Blazing explorers program lights up Exeter

By Michelle Rodriguez

Public Safety Exploring is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth and the organizations in their communities.

Local community organizations initiate a specific Explorer post by matching their people and program resources to the interests of young people in the community. The result is a program of activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow and develop.

"I always wanted to be a firefighter," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection seasonal firefighter, Brett Brown said. "So when Captain Dorch first started the Explorers program in Tulare, I saw an opportunity to see for myself if this was really something I wanted to do."

Exeter Fire Chief, Mark Dorch held the first Explorers program meeting last night at 7 p.m. inside the Fire Station on F Street. But its not to late to join. Just contact Capt. Dorch at 592-3714 to start exploring the fire service.

Brown joined the Explorers program when he was 16 years. old. He graduated in 2000 from Monache High School in Porterville and started his career as firefighter.

"Capt. Dorch is an awesome teacher," Brown said. "The hazardous material drill I did as an Explorer really opened up my eyes because I took on the responsibility of what a company officer does."

Fire Service Exploring is a work-based program for young men and women who have completed the eighth grade and are 14 or 15 years of age, but have not yet reached their 21st birthday. Fire Service Explorer posts help youth gain insight into a variety of programs that offer hands-on career activities. For kids who are interested in careers in the field of fire service, Exploring offers experiential learning with lots of fun-filled, hands-on activities that promote the growth and development of adolescent youth. Explorers must be at least 18 years old and have successfully completed the Explorers program. Graduates become eligible for a paid-call fire position.

Brown currently has a full-time seasonal position with CDF and is now eligible for an engineer position. "I was 18 when I started working for CDF," Brown said. "This will be my fourth year as a seasonal firefighter, and the earlier kids start exploring the fire service, the better."

Brown was born into a family of firefighters. "I remember watching my dad put on his uniform when I was 5 years old," he said. "They'd call him out and I knew he would be gone for a long time." Brown's father, cousins and uncles are firefighters and his grandfather is a retired CDF fire captain.

While growing up Brown said any chance his father would get ,he'd take him to the fire station to check things out.

"My dad would always tell me I didn't have to be a firefighter if I didn't want to," Brown said. "A lot of people think firefighters are in it for the glory. Fighting fires isn't glorious at all," Brown said.

"We try to make a bad situation good. That's what we're here for." He said sometimes things won't go as planned but stick with it. "There's always gonna be bad days. But there are more good days then bad," Brown said. "If I save a house from burning or a life by performing CPR, I feel good knowing that those people are going to live."

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