COPPERAS COVE — Sprinting the length of a stretched fire hose, several area youth rushed to snag the nozzle lying on the ground.
Once it was in their hands, they anchored their weight, waved back to a fire truck and pulled a lever on the nozzle until water gushed onto the Olgetree Gap Park grass.
The group of children took part in the second and final course for the Copperas Cove Fire Department’s Mentoring Industrious Minds and Educating Students program this summer. The course teaches young teens about fire and emergency medical services and gives them the education they need to pursue a career in the field.
In its eight years, the course went from struggling to have participants to finding 24 students and having a second session to make sure every child who enrolled got to participate.
“Basically we are answering why they need certain courses in school if they want to join the fire service, and then we want to show them what it is like to be a firefighter,” said Cove Division Fire Chief Jamey Piper.
There is a lot of math, history and science that is needed to be a firefighter, said Kris Hurst, a firefighter who taught lessons to the children. “For the hose work, we first instructed this week’s 12 students about the math behind pressure of using a fire hose.”
Firefighters tend to fight blazes with 100 to 120 pounds of water pressure, and the children learned how the water gets to that pressure and about how fire pumps and fire hydrants work, Hurst said. They also did the calculations for those devices.
“It is a fun class because we get to learn a little bit about math and the history of firefighting,” said Kassandra Jenney, 13. “You might not get to slide down a pole, but you get the experience of what they do.”
This age group of children is probably the perfect age to be teaching, Piper said.
“They are old enough to understand what we are teaching, but young enough not to have their minds made up about careers and still have that captivating interest to be in a fire station for a week,” he said.
The course really isn’t designed to encourage children to be firefighters, Piper said. It is more about educating them and showing no matter what they want to be, they have to work toward that goal, and learning the material in school is the best way to do that.
“It is a really cool job,” said Kamryn Ash, 12. “But I want to be a vet and save animals’ lives or be a professional soccer player.”
Kamryn said the course showed her how school work will transfer into a future career, she said. And while firefighting may not be in her future, she was looking forward to the rest of the course.
The students will extinguish a car fire, crawl through a smoking building in bunker gear, and use a fire extinguisher Friday.
While not all the lessons can be used at home later, Piper said, some of what they are teaching will help the students be safer in the future.
“We purposely put things in the camp that they will use throughout life,” Piper said, noting children learn about leadership, first aid and how to use some home emergency equipment.