Until Monday, the closest Quinton Lyons had been to a fire was camping.
“I’d also seen a demonstration once, but I’ve never seen anything like that,” Lyons said, describing the scene Dawson County Emergency Services set up to kick off the department’s second annual Junior Fire Academy.
Fire personnel welcomed about two dozen cadets to the academy Monday morning and opened the week with a live fire demonstration at the department’s training facility on Dawson Forest Road.
The burn room at the training center and a couple of passenger vehicles were set ablaze Monday morning for visual effect as engines roared into the station to put out the fire and young eyes watched.
“The way the propane tank worked was awesome,” said 11-year-old Caleb Goodwin, who said he was shocked to see how fire traveled from the tank.
A rookie to the academy, Goodwin said a friend suggested he attend.
“I’m glad I did. It’s so interesting to see all the stuff firefighters do,” he said.
Cadets will spend the week in groups, or battalions, learning basic firefighting skills in preparation for a group competition Friday morning.
Throughout the week, they’ll also become certified in first aid, learn forestry firefighting techniques and experience hands-on operations.
“There will be a day when they learn extrication, when they’ll get to cut a car to pieces,” said Assistant Chief Robbie Hughey, academy director.
Lyons said he’s looking forward to suiting up and maneuvering in the dark with simulated smoke through a maze inside the training tower.
“They told us about that this morning, and that really sounds fun,” he said.
The academy runs through Friday and ends with a graduation ceremony at Riverview Middle School, which will include lunch and activities showcasing the skills cadets learned.