ELBURN – Sixteen-year-old Sabrina Sivert hopes to one day work for the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, a goal she isn’t waiting to work toward.
Sivert, a Kaneland High School junior, has spent much of her teenage years involved with the fire district’s Explorer Post 1357.
The Explorer program introduces students ages 14 to 21 to the fire service.
Participants not only learn various firefighting skills, but they also learn such soft skills as professionalism and how to be respectful with the public, adviser Amelia Hurst said.
“Every day, it’s something new,” Sivert said. “Or you get better because you’re never good enough.”
Because the Explorer program is a huge time commitment – members attend twice-monthly meetings, participate in fundraising activities and spend a weekend in June at the Illinois Fire Service Institute for hands-on training – applicants are encouraged to sit in on a meeting before formally joining, Hurst said.
This month, several Explorers graduated from the program and are now recruits for the fire district. They will become paid-on-call personnel after a year of training, Hurst said.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to know a number of our students graduated and made a step toward becoming firefighters,” she said.
In a speech he wrote for the Explorers’ graduation, senior adviser Rob Stevens described the milestone as possibly the largest and most influential step in the graduates’ lives.
He asked them to adopt several characteristics they will need in their careers: professionalism, passion, dedication and pride.
“You, and you alone, will set the tone for your future,” Hurst said, reading from Stevens’ prepared speech after he was dispatched to a call. “Having pride in your work and your daily activities will improve your attitude and work ethic in the firehouse and in your personal life.”
Eighteen-year-old Stephen Coomes – one of those on track to becoming a paid-on-call employee – said he hoped his involvement with the Explorer program would lead to a job, but he didn’t take it for granted in his nearly two years with the post.
“I’m very thankful for being on this post,” the 2013 St. Charles North High School graduate said, noting the program taught him leadership, communication and firefighting skills. “Also, I love the brotherhood part of it.”
He and two other graduates – Joe Miller and Colin DePrez – were officers for the post, meaning they ran the meetings and helped run the drills. On their graduation night, they passed that leadership role to others, including Sivert.
“My name being called meant the world to me,” she said. “It’s great to live the dream.”
For information about becoming an Explorer, contact Stevens at 630-365-6855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.