“My friend got me thinking of going,” said the 13-year-old girl who coincidentally ended up in the same firefighter session as her friend, Beth Weisenberger.
“To be honest, it looked interesting on the website,” added Sell, the daughter of Alan Sell and Na Li. “You never know when something like this will come in handy some day.”
On the last day of camp, the students learned how to properly use a fire extinguisher on a small, controlled burn.
In addition to the firefighter course, Weisenberger enrolled in a session about animation. The 13-year-old girl will be an eighth-grade student at Western Reserve Middle School.
“I like making stories and some times, games,” said the daughter of Joe and Amy.
Lead firefighter instructor Jeff Mason, who retired after 25 years with the Perkins Township Fire Department, told the campers to sweep the extinguisher at the base of the flames while slowly moving toward them. The students then had to step away from the controlled blaze while facing it.
“Never put your back to the fire,” camper Lamar Kirkwood Jr. said, echoing the consistent message from the veteran firefighter.
When asked about putting out the blaze, the 12-year-old son of Lamar Kirkwood and Michelle Geretz said he “knew it was going to take a while to go out.” He will be a seventh-grade student at Norwalk Middle School.
Mason said people should never turn their backs on a fire because it could reignite.
Two rising high school seniors assisted Mason at the firefighters training area off Mason Road — Brody Service (St. Paul) and James Stuart (Crestview). Also assisting for the day was Milan Township firefighter Tom Shreve, who took the opportunity to spend time with his nephew, Gavin LaMarca.
The younger Kirkwood was asked why he enrolled in the firefighter camp.
“Because I knew it was going to be fun and I was going to enjoy it,” he said.
In addition to the fire extinguisher safety, the campers learned to run hose in the fire training tower and loaded it onto a truck. The children also practiced using ladders.
Campers used a thermal imaging camera, which helps locate people and animals in buildings.
“It tells you where the heat is,” said Maggie Nardecchia, who will be in the seventh grade at Bellevue Middle School.
The 12-year-old daughter of Derek Nardecchia and Amy Cook also said the device would be very helpful for firefighters.
Mason said the campers had an experience not many people have — learning what a firefighter does.
“This opens up a whole new world,” he added.