Home Latest Stories “Junior Firefighters” Display Their Talents at Ocean City Camp

“Junior Firefighters” Display Their Talents at Ocean City Camp

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Junior Firefighters stretch the hose during the third day of camp at Ocean City's Fire Department headquarters.

By MADDY VITALE

Harper Juelg didn’t have to think too hard to decide what her favorite part of Ocean City’s Junior Firefighter Camp was on Wednesday.

“Definitely the sprinkler is the best,” Harper, 10, of Ocean City, said with a smile while standing with her friends and fellow campers, Carolyn Stamm, 13, whose father is Ocean City Fire Captain Ryan Stamm, and 9-year-old Naomi Bickley.

“I probably like the water the best because anything with water is so much fun,” Harper noted. “And yesterday was so hot.”

Each summer the program, which is in its 15th year at the Ocean City Fire Department headquarters at 550 Asbury Ave., provides a fun-filled four days for 30 children ages 9 to 12 years old.

The campers get hands-on experience in some of the things firefighters do in their daily duties. The camp began Monday and culminates with a pizza party Thursday.

Friends and fellow campers, from left, Naomi Bickley, Carolyn Stamm and Harper Juelg enjoy the day.

The junior firefighters learn CPR and all about firefighting apparatus and stretching hose lines, among other activities. They experience a day in the life of a real firefighter. They even rappel from the firehouse ceiling.

Ocean City Battalion Chief John Quigley Jr. explained that Wednesday’s camp day was all about the water. From using the fire hose to douse a tree, to learning how to shut off a sprinkler system, the day was filled with fun and learning about important and lifesaving firefighting skills, while staying cool.

Quigley’s son, Luke, 10, said he especially liked trying his hand at the fire hose. With a little assistance from a firefighter, Luke held the hose tight and even sprayed it up and down.

“I like the fire hose. It’s fun. You get to shoot the water at the tree,” Luke said, adding that it isn’t too hard to do thanks to some help.

Firefighter John Simonson was in charge of the sprinkler system portion of the day. Camper after camper couldn’t wait to get up to the top of the ladder and shut off the sprinkler system while enjoying a good soaking of water.

Henry Parks, 11, of Ocean City, actually got dressed in fire gear to step onto the ladder. He wanted to make the scenario even more realistic since a firefighter would be wearing a helmet and firefighter coat and pants.

“It’s definitely fun. I like camp a lot,” Henry said.

While most of the day was focused on water skills, which also included a visit to an Ocean City Police Department emergency boat, there were plenty of other activities the campers got to try out. They learned how to break open a door with an axe, with plenty of assistance from the real firefighters.

They also worked as a team to carry the hose through the door and into a dark room where they “rescued” a person, which was really just a wrapped-up hose, and “performed” CPR.

Firefighters give Henry Parks a little help getting on his fire gear to shut down the sprinkler.

Firefighter Nick Foglio and Captain Ryan Stamm explained that the scenario is called “First in Evolution,” and it is one of the skills that the firefighters train in often.

Firefighter camp began in 2010. Recently retired Deputy Fire Chief Charlie Bowman started the popular camp, which is overseen by newly appointed Fire Chief Bernie Walker.

All of the camp instructors are New Jersey Division of Fire Safety certified firefighters and members of IAFF Local 4032.

Many of the instructors volunteer their off-duty time to help make the camp an enjoyable, educational and successful experience for the participants.

Luke Quigley sprays the hose.
Captain Ryan Stamm helps campers pry open the door.
Campers “perform” CPR.
Henry Parks turns off the sprinkler system with the help of Firefighter John Simonson.
Campers rush the “victim” to safety.