Members of Zephyrhills Fire Rescue Cadet Post 650 have a chance to find out what’s involved in the life of a firefighter and emergency responder through a program operated out of Fire Rescue Station 1, at 6907 Dairy Road in Zephyrhills.
Billy Jeffries, the lead cadet advisor of Post 650, puts the youth through their paces. The Wesley Chapel resident also serves as the Florida Fire Chief Association section vice chair and has been a cadet advisor for 13 years. He knows how the cadets feel, as they’re learning about what’s necessary to become a firefighter, because he was one himself, 18 years ago.
To be eligible for the program, hopefuls must be ages 14 through 20, must be enrolled in school and must maintain a 2.5 grade point average, must be free of a criminal record and must desire to help the community.
The year-round program can accommodate 16 members; it has 13 presently.
The purpose of the program is to give local youths a chance to get an early start at learning what it takes to be a first responder. There are weekly classes that include classroom instruction, and there is hands-on training and exercises.
Cadets can earn certificates they can use in the future for their careers as first responders. Certifications that are typically earning include Emergency Medical Responder and CPR.
Besides practicing, the cadets can test their skills in competitions statewide, including the Florida Winter Fire Games, scheduled to take place in Kissimmee, in February 2019.
There is a one-time enrollment fee of $40, which covers insurance and membership fees for the Florida Fire Chiefs Association.
By Christine Holtzman
Published November 21, 2018