Students on summer vacation enjoyed a soot-covered and wet time during the recent junior fire academy.
The free, annual Dawson County Emergency Services program takes middle school-aged kids through several activities and demonstrations, including water hose training and a smokehouse, showing them what it's like to be a firefighter.
"We've done CPR, search and rescue and equipment use," said student Emily Gunier. "We also saw helicopter demonstrations and how to use the fire gear."
About 24 students took part in last week's course.
"We show them things like how we use the search-and-rescue dogs, respirators and fire gear, finding their way through the dark and the smoke and other survival techniques we use," said Lt. Todd Holloway.
And with all of those activities, some of the fire cadets had a difficult time narrowing down their best moments.
"The smokehouse was probably my favorite part," said Ruthie Pittman. "You always have to feel and use your hands a lot. You have to make sure you keep up with and hold onto your partner."
Others enjoyed more open-air activities.
"I think the K-9 unit was my favorite part," said Frankie Muldoon. "We got to go out in the field and the victims would hide in holes and we got to find them."
And the academy isn't just a one-time event. Some of the attendees have come for several years.
"I still learn all kinds of stuff, like how to cut up a car and not to put water on a grease fire," said Matthew Brauda, who was a third time participants.
But for the first-time cadets, the academy likely will draw them back for years to come.
"It's something I would definitely come back out and do this again," Devin Juliette said. "I learned how to do all kinds of things from it."