Fire Explorers Train on Mammoth Road

The house at 381 Mammoth Road had thick white smoke billowing from the doors and windows, while youths ages 14 to 18 were entering the structure, all of them members of the Hudson Firefighter Explorer Post, training to be future firefighters.
The smoke, created from a machine that produces a thick, non-toxic vapor, simulated the conditions that firefighters are greeted with at a real fire.
Londonderry Firefighter Bruce Hallowell watched carefully on Saturday along with other training instructors as the Explorers entered the building low and carried hoses to fight the simulated “fire,” while others went in on a search and rescue mission.

Hallowell had gone through the program himself before becoming a “call” firefighter and eventually became a Londonderry firefighter. He was conducting the training of those who might one day follow in his boot steps.
“What we teach here are the techniques used and the actions we take when fighting a fire, and one of the first things that we stress is safety. We’re here to train, but we want everyone to go home,” Division Chief of Fire Prevention Brian Johnson said.
“We also want them to know that if they are seeking a career in the fire department or police department, that the choices that they make now will follow them,” Hallowell said. “To be on a fire department, when they have to take the pre-employment polygraph, that one bad choice made now could ruin a possible career choice.”
Hudson Explorer Devon Carroll said that even though it was very cold Saturday, once the gear was put on, thoughts of the cold went away.
“Once your body gets used to it, you don’t focus on it for the rest of the day. The focus is all on the training and listening to our advisors,” Carroll said.
Hudson Explorer Nikole St. Germain, 14, has only been an Explorer for two weeks but had the concept well in hand.
“For me it’s a new experience but a great experience. I thought it was really educational because beforehand they didn’t just throw us into it, they taught us what we were going to do and I liked that. When I was 5, I decided I wanted to be a firefighter and then I got interested in animals and thought that was the direction I was going, but now I’m back into it,” she said.
Londonderry Explorers Matt Wood, 14, Sean Lowe, 14, and Jamie Grandmaison, 19, are all learning what it takes to become the firefighters that they one day hope to be.
“This is something that you don’t always get to do, to learn about your career and get the training that you’ll use one day,” Wood said.
“It’s a good learning experience, and you also get a chance to learn from your mistakes as well as from your instructors,” Grandmaison said.
Nashua Explorers Phil Justvig, 15, Patrick Bue, 15, and Nick Bue, 17, said it was training that showed them how to trust each other and the need to be there for their fellow Explorers.
Nine out of the 14 Explorers taking part in the exercise have family members in the fire service. Corey Morin, the son of Dave Morin, a captain in the Hudson Fire Department and Explorer Director, said that during the program’s existence of over 30 years, 50 current firefighters had been Explorers.
Londonderry Battalion Chief Jim Roger said the Explorers appreciate the training that is offered and the time and commitment given to the training by the firefighters who are helping them.
“We just started to be involved,” he said of the Londonderry department. “I think it was September that we did the first training session. We invited them to the Central Station and we did some rope rescue training and automobile extrication training. It’s good to give them a little look into how a different department does things and to have different instructors and at the same time, the firefighters who are instructing them get an opportunity to have a refresher by teaching the techniques that they use and passing them along to the Explorers.”
Roger said the Explorers asked Londonderry if it would be interested in helping the Hudson group with the training and Londonderry said “absolutely.”
“After a few training exercises we said, ‘Hey, you have some Londonderry kids in the program, why don’t we form a partnership, and that way, instead of Londonderry trying to start its own post, why don’t we just share resources and we’d probably have a better program,” Roger said.
Roger said he wanted to give kudos to Hallowell, who was given the assignment to train the Explorers and did a great job. Roger also said that Chief Darren O’Brien supported the effort from the start, as did all the firefighters.
“What this program does is give training and information to the Explorers who will work their way through it and through the training until they age out at 18, and then they will have a lot of the training they’ll need to join the fire department,” Roger said.
One thing repeatedly emphasized by Hallowell and Roger was to be careful of the choices the Explorers made now and in the future, as the road to being a firefighter is straight and narrow.

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