Tim Tripp of is slowly transitioning into a position with the Raymond Fire Department. The 18-year-old says the fire department keeps him out of trouble.

“I wanted to do something with my life,” he says. “But I wasn’t sure what.”

This spring, Tripp will graduate from Westbrook Regional Vocational Center where he’s enrolled in Public Safety, a program teaching fire science and emergency medicine.

But it all began at home with his local department. When Tripp was 14 he decided to join the local Fire Explorer program. On Sunday, the Raymond Fire Department will hold an open house where young folks from Windham and Raymond, ages 14 to 21, can prepare for a career in fire and rescue, or just find camaraderie in giving back to their community. The department will also be showcasing equipment and providing refreshments. All are welcome.

“Through the program, we’ve had kids come up through the ranks and become members of the department,” said Doug Kerr, Fire Explorer point person and Raymond firefighter for six years. “We’ve also had folks move on to full-time positions with dispatch centers. It’s a great program to introduce kids to the world of fire and rescue.”

As Tripp transitions into a member of Raymond’s fire department he’s become a liaison helping youngsters get acquainted with the Fire Explorer program.

But you don’t have to desire a career in fire and rescue to join, and that’s what the informational session at the open house is all about. Young people may merely want to do something positive for their community. Members help out with annual events such as the Sebago Lake fishing derby, the Cumberland Fair, or Casco Days. Tripp gives tours of fire trucks at Casco Days and is present at t he popular “polar dip” event at the Sebago fishing derby each February.

“I make sure people are staying safe,” Tripp said. “I help out with security, or if there’s a medical situation.”

Through training, Fire Explorers learn how to put out fires and assist with vehicle accidents. A probationary period of six months prohibits new members from going on an actual call until they’re prepped on the basics.

Kerr says it’s a great opportunity for young folks to learn teambuilding skills and build self confidence. “It can be fun and it can also be intense,” Kerr said. “It’s an opportunity to grow beyond academic, school-based learning. It’s an chance to show kids what they can do.”

Tripp remembers his first real training experience when he was 15 or 16. “It was a live fire burn,” he said. “I got to go in there with the captain and put the fire out. It was pretty exciting. I love it; I’m absolutely glad I’m doing it.”

Tripp said the Fire Explorer program is a good hands-on experience. Because of his experience with Raymond, half of what he’s learned at the vocational center in Westbrook has been review. “The Fire Explorer is a good thing to get into,” he said. “It gives you a leg up.”

Located at 1443 Roosevelt Trail (Route 302) near the intersection of Main Street and Deep Cove Road, the open house is at the Raymond Public Safety Building on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

 

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at:

[email protected]