Junior Firefighters learn firefighting and emergency service skills as well as life skills. The advisors pictured are Captain Joshua Compton, Ravin Ellis and Ray Jeter.

Becoming a firefighter is a dream many youths have pondered over. The Roanoke Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department sports a program allowing kids to take a big step toward a firefighting career path.

Several RWVFD Junior Firefighters gather at the fire station to learn the details of a typical day of a fireman. Captain Joshua Compton was once a junior cadet himself. He now imparts the lessons he learned to the junior cadets following his past footsteps. The youth learn more than firefighting and emergency medical techniques.

“We teach them life skills, such as how to balance a checkbook, leadership skills, and public speaking so they can go out and give a presentation and talk to people in the community,” Compton said.

The public speaking curriculum was fully displayed during last week’s meeting as junior cadets interviewed firefighters. Junior cadet Rushaun Ruffin chatted with Deputy Fire Chief Dustin Garner about the department’s dive team. Garner explained the visibility of different waterways and the mission of the dive team.

Kristina Thompson recently joined the junior firefighter program. The 16-year-old had a back-and-forth with Compton about his duties at the RWVFD. Thompson’s curiosity led to her joining the junior firefighter program.

“I wanted to see what it’s like, and I want to do something to give back to the community,” Thompson said. “I thought the junior firefighters would be a perfect way to do that.”

Justin Azzara, 11, discussed what led him to join the junior firefighter program at RWVFD.

“I decided to join the RWVFD for juniors because I thought it would be cool to be a junior firefighter with the county,” he said.

RWVFD Chief Lorenzo Wilkins said the program is an excellent tool for youth to build self-esteem and gain new friends with common interests.

The RWVFD is located at 790 Lizard Creek Road, Littleton, North Carolina. For more information about the Junior Firefighter program, call 252-586-5737.