After years of training with local fire departments, more than 80 teens and young adults on 19 teams gathered to test their skills in a "Fire Muster" competition Saturday at the Joint Training Facility in South Seattle.
As young children, many of them had the dream of riding in a red firetruck and dousing a fire with a long hose. Now as teens, these eager and strong fire cadets are one step closer to becoming firefighters in our communities.
After years of training with local fire departments, more than 80 teens and young adults on 19 teams gathered to test their skills in a “Fire Muster” competition Saturday at the Joint Training Facility in South Seattle.
Participants, called fire cadets and Explorers, are between 14 and 21 and have an interest in firefighting.
“The biggest thing you learn is teamwork,” said Micah Niederkrome, 18, who competed on one of the SeaTac-Tukwila teams. “You learn how to communicate in a work environment. It helps you mature.”
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Four-person teams from throughout the area competed in timed events such as mass-casualty triage, search and rescue, hydrant connection and a combat-challenge relay.
Saturday was the culmination of hours of training for cadets such as Joe Spivey, 20, of Bellevue, who has been a cadet for four years.
“My dad is a Bellevue firefighter, and I remember going to the station, and he planted a seed in me to be a firefighter,” he said.
At the search-and-rescue station, Spivey and three others on Bellevue Team A entered a building on their knees, searching for a survivor.
With plastic wrap covering their masks to simulate the suffocating effects of smoke, cadets felt their way inside the dark building. Creeping along a wall and pushing over furniture, they found a mannequin and carried it to safety.
Mickey McLain, 21, came to cheer on the cadets.
Once a cadet herself with the Seattle Fire Department, McLain knows what it is like to compete in the Fire Muster.
“I took it very seriously,” she said. “I trained all year for it.”
Now she is a part-time firefighter with Skyway Fire Department and attending University of Washington.
“I see a lot of potential,” she said, watching teams compete at the search-and-rescue station. “I’d like to see more females in this, too.”
At the timed combat-challenge relay, a Redmond-Vashon Island team split up duties: One carried a bundled fire hose weighing about 40 pounds up three flights of stairs, one hoisted a fire hose from the ground up to a balcony, another rescued a baby doll, and a fourth dragged a hose line out to wet down a spot.
“It’s the realistic side of firefighting,” said Seattle Fire Lt. Keith Wyatt, who has coordinated the program for years. “They also get life skills out of it.”
Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or firstname.lastname@example.org