Click here for more photos from last week's junior fire academy.
Dylan Head knows what he wants to be when he grows up.
"I'm going to be a firefighter, just like my dad," said the 12-year-old.
Last week, he was among nearly three dozen young cadets living the life of a firefighter in the Dawson County Emergency Services' Junior Fire Academy.
"I learned a lot about what firefighters do and what my dad, Nathan Head, does every day at work. I just like that he likes saving people's lives, so they have a brighter future," he said. "He knows how to get them calm when they're hurt and scared, so they won't freak out, and now I do, too."
Now in its fifth year, the free academy is designed to give youngsters a working knowledge of fire service, with hands-on exercises that focus on leadership, safety and a basic understanding of emergency response.
"I learned about all the hoses and rigging and cut up cars to be able to save someone who's trapped inside a car after a wreck or car fire and what to use on different types of fires," Head said. "But the most fun this week was probably cutting up the car with the Jaws of Life."
Working in teams, or battalions, the youth learned basic firefighting skills and forestry techniques in preparation for Friday morning's group competition that showcased the knowledge cadets gained.
Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said he was proud of the cadets for their work ethic and attentiveness throughout the week.
"They're kids. We expect them to be kids, but when they come in and show the respect that they did, we are very appreciative of that," he said. "But we are most appreciative to you [parents] for trusting our department with your kids. We know they're you're most precious resource. We hope that they came with the intent to learn something and I think each of them did."