Before David Summers met Warsaw Fire Department Fire Chief Joe Cummins, he didn’t know anyone who was a firefighter. But that all changed for the Warsaw resident shortly after a project he did while in sixth grade at Warsaw Middle School.
David, now an eighth-grader, had always had an interest in helping others and discovered his interest could turn into a career by joining a fire department.
Darlene Clark, David’s teacher, had organized a unit on career research and resume writing for her students at the tail-end of their sixth-grade year. With the help of Warsaw Central School coordinator Renee Duquette, each student was able to choose one career to focus on and further research. The students then created PowerPoint presentations, invited guests into their classroom and presented their research.
Soon after the project, Clark and Duquette arranged monthly after-school visits to the Warsaw Fire Department, where David met Cummins and Warsaw High School upperclassman Matt Ferrin. Matt is a member of the department’s Explorer Program, designed for youth 14 to 18 years old.
“I was a little nervous and intimidated when I first went to the fire hall,” David said. “I didn’t know anyone who is a fireman or had even been in a firehouse before.”
Throughout this past school year, David learned what it takes to be a fireman and that there are both paid and volunteer men and women who serve. He also donned the turnout gear, learned the tools of the trade, and about the multitude of knobs and dials on a fire truck and how they are used during a fire.
“The gear was heavy,” David said.
Yet his sense of pride swelled from the experience, saying he felt like a “real” fireman.
Not only did his meetings with Cummins teach him the skills it takes to fight a fire and operate the pumps and such on the trucks, Cummins also tried to tie the experience in with school lessons in subjects such as math and science – knowledge which is imperative in firefighting.
“Learning about firefighting has helped me with my homework and getting it finished because I focus on my schoolwork more,” David said.
The visits to the firehouse wasn’t just about learning the equipment, he also realized that time is of the essence when it comes to responding to an emergency as well.
On one of the last visits of the school year, David and Duquette had a bit of a friendly competition on who could get the turnout gear on the quickest – for the record, David won. But the highlight of his experience was riding in the fire truck.
Next year, when he turns 14, David plans on joining the department’s Explorer Program.