Students explore how to become firefighters


Students explore how to become firefighters
Fin Luippold, left, and Steve Harris practice harnessing techniques on a dummy during a meeting of Explorers Post 85 at the fire station on Feb. 21. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

WESTBOROUGH – Fin Luippold and Steve Harris were learning to save a life.

Under the guidance of Fire Lt. and paramedic Roger Busha, they learned the proper way to use orange webbing to harness a victim – in this case, a dummy named Rescue Roger – and transport him to safety.

A bit later, they practiced their harnessing technique on a live person and performed a “rescue” through a window frame.

All this while wearing full firefighter gear, from helmet and boots to a breathing apparatus.

This was part of a regular meeting of Explorers Post 85, a program of the Boy Scouts of America sponsored by the Westborough Fire Department.

Members of the post – all high schoolers – are learning what it takes to become a firefighter.

“We have all sorts of training,” said Harris.

According to Harris, the Explorers, who learn how to wear the equipment and vent houses, got to break down walls during a recent training session at a house on Otis Street.

“They prepare us for real-world situations,” said Sawyer Waitneight, a member of the Explorers who attends Acton-Boxborough High School.

Part of the training also includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, apparatus orientation (learning about its purpose and placement of all fire department equipment) and the history of the fire service.

“We teach all about the fire service,” said Busha, who is one of several adult advisers for the post. “We’ve also arranged visits with the police and K-9 unit.”

“We get them ready for adult life,” he added.

A word from the adult advisers 

The post has been around since 1967, when it was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 85. In the early 1980s, the Westborough Firefighters Association took over the sponsorship.

“I love this group,” said Steven Bowman, an adviser who’s been with the post since 2017.

Brett Borgland, another adviser, joined the Explorers in 1972.

“I like to be able to do volunteer work,” said Borgland, who served with the Coast Guard. “It gave me a lot of life skills.”

Rob Lane has been involved with the Explorers post since 1987.

“The post did a tremendous amount for me,” he said. “It helped me form my identity.”

Currently, Post 85 is chartered by the post itself and sponsored by the Fire Department.

Explorers Post 85 back from COVID-19

Like other Explorer posts in the region, Post 85 took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike other posts, Post 85 managed to resume activities once the pandemic eased.

“This is our second year going,” said Harris.

Harris was one of four original members meeting that night.

“We’re trying to keep it alive and recruit new members,” he added.

In addition to training, post members take trips. Thanks to dues and grants, post members have visited the Boston Fire Department, and they are planning a trip to New York City to see the 9/11 Memorial.

As to why they want to become firefighters, post members cited family connections and the desire to help people. Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School student Sean Kronenberg said that two of his uncles are firefighters, while Luippold and Westborough High School junior Tristan Bond said they liked to help people.

“I didn’t want a job where you’d do the same thing every day,” said Harris, who attends Shrewsbury High School.

Luippold and Harris, both seniors, are planning to study fire science when they get to college.

Explorers Post 85 is open to boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 who have an interest in emergency services. The post meets Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the fire station on Milk Street.

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