FASNY invites exemplary organizations to apply for the Youth Group of the Year Award. Each year, the FASNY Youth in the Fire Service Committee recognizes the youth fire organization that best embodies a dedication to both fire and community service.
Hicksville Fire Department Juniors
Founded in 1971, the Hicksville Fire Department Junior (HFDJ) program currently consists of 23 members who range in age from 14 to 18.
The leadership team conducts monthly meetings and schedules weekly drills with the various companies within the department. They train in skills using SCBA such as reduced profiles, FAST operations, search operations, mayday procedures, forced entry, hand lines, ground ladders, tower ladders, stoke and hazmat operations.
As a result, the program is a direct benefit to Junior members’ development for their future careers, as well as a confidence builder to their self-esteem. The early developmental training that Juniors receive is a major asset to the community by providing a tactically qualified public servant in a quicker period of time from when they enter the fire department.
Currently, 18 of the 23 members are CPR/AED certified. One weekend a month, the officers and advisors arrange an EMS training scenario that is facilitated by a department AEMT or paramedic. The group performs mock drills such as bleeding control, splinting, patient packaging, accident scene assessment and size up. Over the past two years, Hicksville has seen a large increase in EMS-related
calls and, thanks to the Juniors program, Hicksville now has young EMTs that took the New York State certification during the summer after their high school graduation.
These inspired past Juniors have maintained a 70 percent-plus response to EMS runs. This is a certification difficult to obtain without inspiration from being a Junior firefighter. The training, departmental procedure and SOP knowledge these members have made an immediate impact in EMS response. While the officers strive for a well-trained firematic members, their commitment to the department members and their community are paramount.
Juniors participate in all the uniformed activities that the department attends such as parades, civic functions and funerals. They continually help the community in numerous capacities such as spring and fall cleanup of Foley Park, holiday tree lighting crowd control and the annual Fire Prevention Poster Contest done in partnership with the Hicksville School District.
Their commitment to their community is further illustrated by the group’s effort during the annual Fire Prevention Week. During Fire Prevention Open House, the Juniors run multiple educational stations for the residents.
Hicksville Junior firefighters took an active role to assist first-hand following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. They collected food donations to assist the displaced residents of Long Island and also traveled to Island Park on multiple occasions to work at a pantry assisting with handing out food and supplies to the local residents. Winter months bring the joy of missed school days due to snow. However, HFDJ officers do not take the day to play. Rather, they contact their advisors and send out a group text to all their members to report to headquarters in three-hour shifts for snow detail. Hicksville Fire Department Officers also compose an annual list of department members that are ailing or injured and the Juniors go to these residences to shovel snow from their sidewalks and driveways. At the completion of this task, the group focuses on their fire hydrant clearing program throughout the district.
The group’s desire to build relationships with other fire departments’ youth programs is evident in the numerous drills set up and run by the HFDJ officers with other fire departments’ Junior programs. The preservation of the brotherhood of firefighting is a benchmark for other youth groups.
The Hicksville Fire Department Junior program has positively impacted the community, as the current Hicksville Fire Department membership boasts one past Junior as a Chief, three past Juniors as Commissioners and five past members serving as Company Officers.
Adapted from nominations submitted by Hicksville Fire District Commissioner William Blazo and Hicksville Fire Department First Assistant Chief Gary Lewis