(Victor Valley)– For 14 years now young men and women have arrived at the Fort Irwin National Training Center for the annual Explorer Academy. Run by the Inland Empire Fire Explorer Association (IEFEA), the Academy is a five day camp where Explorers participate in a number of drills, get hands on experience, and decide if a career in firefighting is what they want to pursue.
This year, two San Bernardino County Fire Explorers will be in high ranking leadership roles. Jacob Sobrito, from the Lucerne Valley Post, will be serving as Explorer Chief. From Victorville, David Hernandez achieved the rank of Division Chief.
“This is a big achievement for Jacob,” said Explorer Coordinator and Captain Jay Hausman, “it’s the highest ranking position at the Academy.”
The IEFEA is made up of over 35 local programs in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Sobrito was selected out of 58 Explorers who attended the Leadership Academy this September at Mile High Pines Camp, located in Angelus Oaks. This is his fourth time attending the academy and his third time in a leadership role.
Hernandez is the Chief of the Victorville program and has been involved in the post for almost four years now. He will be part of what the IEFEA calls the “6-pack.” The 6-pack is made up of the Explorer Chief, an Assistant Chief, and four Division Chiefs. Each of the Division Chiefs has a specialty in either Safety, Training, Logistics, or as a Public Information Officer. Hernandez will be in charge of Safety and will be paired with a professional firefighter safety officer during the Academy.
This year’s Academy offers training in three specific areas over three days of exercises. Explorers will practice drills such as self-rescue and how to rescue a down firefighter. They will participate in a live structure fire which will teach about fire behavior and attacking fires, and one day will be dedicated to learning about flammable liquids and gases and how to handle situations where these chemicals are burning.
The County Fire Explorer Program is open to young men and women between the ages of 14 and 21. Explorers participate in a wide variety of firefighter training, while the experience is most beneficial for those who decide to become professional firefighters, it will help those who end up going into different careers. The program teaches discipline, motivation, communication, loyalty, and student participants must maintain a 2.5 GPA minimum.
The Academy runs from Dec 2-6 and will conclude with a graduation ceremony on Dec 6.