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Stories From Main Street: Rockland Youths Spend Spring Break Learning To Fight Fires

Teenagers participate in a firefighting training course in Pomona, N.Y. (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

Teenagers participate in a firefighting training course in Pomona, N.Y. (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

POMONA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - They could have been at the mall or playing video games, but instead a bunch of kids from north of the city suited up and became firefighters over spring break.

“The kids are loving this,” said instructor Johnny Alph.

The helmets are a little heavy and the protective bunker gear a little baggy, but that didn’t slow down 50 Rockland County youngsters, 12 to 14-years-old, getting an education at the fire training center in Pomona.

“They’re stretching hose lines here in the burn building,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “No fire, but they’re stretching hand lines on to the second floor, running them down a hallway, down a lower field. They’re stretching them into the tower building.”

Inside the dark smokehouse, on the second floor was New York City firefighter Andy Colisar helped the kids with the hose.

“For me, this is such a passion and love for me that I’d like to just kind of instill that to somebody. If I can make that connection with one of these kids, it’s a success. The program’s a success,” he said.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

RELATED: More Stories From Main Street

“It was fun, but it was hard to move the hose,” said 13-year-old Thomas Cameron of South Orangetown Middle School.

14-year-old Kevin Lynch from Nyack said he wants to volunteer when he turns 16.

“My brothers and my dad are and I want to be too. Get the whole family involved. My mother’s also in the auxiliary,” he said. “It’s fun to help people in need and do all this cool stuff.”

They learn first aid, CPR, teamwork, and self-reliance.

“In today’s day and age, with everybody working two and three jobs, volunteers are harder to come by,” said Instructor Dave Krieger, who is 25-year firefighting veteran and former chief. “So, the younger you can get them, the younger you can start to plant the seed into them and groom them into firefighters when they become 16 years of age, which, for some of them, is only a couple of years away. If they’re enjoying it now, they’re getting a taste. You’ve planted it.”

“It’s not always pulling someone out of a burning building. But saving somebody’s house, saving property, doing the little things like that,” Colisar said “They see that and they see our passion, our desire, and I think they just feed off of it.”

“To see 50 young people giving up their spring vacation and learning what’s it’s like to be a firefighter, it’s really a great thing to see,” said Alph.