By Jason A. Smith
Jared Story, of Stockbridge, was excited to be recognized by Henry County government leaders, for accomplishments he and 14 other young men achieved at a recent competition for budding firefighters.
Henry County Fire Department Explorer Post 190 garnered several awards at Winterfest 2010, in Gatlinburg, Tenn., last month. Members won first place in the Wake Up Jacob drill, in which participants are judged on dressing quickly to go to a fire scene, and operating fire hoses. Teams from Post 190 won second place in the team quick-dress category at the competition, and second and third place in the hammer drill relay.
The group received certificates from the Henry County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, recognizing their achievements.
"It doesn't happen every day," said Story, the 17-year-old chief of Explorer Post 190. "That was an out-of-the-park home run. For us to get recognized in that way was just amazing."
Story has been active with the Explorer post for three years, and has wanted to fight fires since he was a small child. He is confident the program will help him to reach his goals, when the time comes for him to seek certification as a firefighter.
"I'll already know a lot of the information, and I won't have to study all day, every day, to pass my firefighter test," Story said.
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis said Post 190's accomplishments "speak to the caliber of youth we have in Henry County."
"The program gives youth an opportunity to explore a career in public safety," she said. "If we can keep them here, and they are invested in the community, it will make them fine firefighters because they have roots here."
Approximately 3,000 individuals took part in the Winterfest competition, according to Henry Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Jason McCullough, the Henry Fire Explorer program's head advisor. He said he is proud of his group's achievements in the contest.
"They brought back five awards, which is unheard of," said McCullough. "I think one other post brought home two."
McCullough founded Post 190 in 2004, and has served as the head of the agency's Explorer endeavor since its inception. Additional advisors for Post 190 include Henry Fire Lts. Marty Miller, Kip Hynson and Lucas Harmson.
McCullough, who has worked as a Henry County firefighter and emergency medical technician for 13 years, went through an Explorer course in Clayton County in the early 1990s. He said the "work-based learning program" in Henry has been successful in instructing participants, ages 14 to 20, in emergency response.
"We teach them about fire behavior, water supply, first aid and how to respond to car accidents," said McCullough, 33. "The ultimate goal, obviously, is for them to learn as much as they can. Once they complete the training, they've earned the privilege of being able to actually respond on calls."
McCullough added that several Post 190 members are related to employees of the Henry County Fire Department. Among those who are eager to follow in their loved ones' footsteps, he said, are his sons, Austin, 17, and Andrew, 14.
"They were all about it," he said. "I was running the post for two years before either of them were able to join, and it was killing them."
On the net:
Henry County Fire Department Explorer Post 190: www.post190.com