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Belton Fire Department: YES Program for elementary students a success

September 22, 2022

My name is Capt. Michael Browning and I am part of the 2022-23 Leadership Institute. I want to share details on the YES program that we have at Belton Fire Department that focuses on attracting school age students to the fire service. 

YES stands for Year End Studies. The program was an idea our elementary school had for various trades and activities for the kids to participate in at the end of the school year. The students select from various activities, including crafts, gardening, camping, law enforcement and fire service. The teachers select an activity to host and work with the corresponding tradesmen. It is a two-and-a-half-day event for kids from the elementary school grades 3-5 to experience what the fire service is and what we do.

After the first year of participating in the YES program, the Belton Fire Department wanted to take it a step further. We take them on field trips with help from the school district on buses to see how different fire departments operate and to the local career center to the firefighter program. During this experience the students can look forward to when they get to high school and also get the opportunity to see live burns take place.

The students are taught the history of our department and given a tour of the fire house and fire apparatus. They participate in fire extinguisher class and go through a scale down of an obstacle course that is set up like an agility test. We also include EMS by having them bring an ambulance by the station so they can see and go through an ambulance where they are also taught how and when to preform CPR. At the end of the program, they receive a certificate of participation. This program is all about getting the kids involved and getting them to use the equipment that we use just to see how cool this job is.

Why is the YES program important?

It shows what the fire service is about, not just running calls but shows that we help the community with so much more. It also plants the seed at a young age for recruitment and we can show case our junior program so maybe they will get involved at when the time comes.

How it has been successful for your department?

The main reason for our success is Chief Maness. He allows us to do whatever it takes to see this program through and the dedication of our members these show the importance of  this program. We have gained some junior firefighters from this program when they turn fourteen, the message that we send from this gets spread at school and we hear back from the principal and other teachers of how exciting and how they have learned from this. It seems that more and more kids want to be a part of this program when the time comes because of word of mouth from the others.

How can other departments adopt a similar program?

First get involved with your schools, it came easy to do this because of how heavily we are involved in the schools. Start small by doing open houses for the schools then expand each year to make it bigger.

If you have any questions on this program feel free to contact us.

Captain Michael Browning: 864-338-7048; 864-844-4931; [email protected]

Chief Brad Maness: 864-33-7048; 864-934-5670; [email protected]

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