As reported by Fire-Rescue Magazine on FirefighterNation.com, the International Association of Fire Chiefs Volunteer and Combination Officers Section has released their Silver Ribbon Report titled: “Opening New Doors: Guidelines and Best Practices for a Successful Youth Fire Service Program.”
While I haven’t had the chance to read the entire 52-page report cover-to-cover, I can tell you that it’s comprehensive in scope and a well organized resource for anyone involved in creating or maintaining a fire department sponsored youth program. It holds something for everyone including chief officers, youth leaders, fire department administration, parents, support liaisons and the youth themselves.
The report addresses youth program administration, legal issues, recruitment, retention and marketing; safety, education and training.
While reinforcing that the material provided is intended to serve strictly as recommendations, they did take a firm stance in their “Golden Rule” section which stated: “We steadfastly believe that a noncertified youth member should never be used to replace a certified firefighter or emergency medical practitioner on the frontlines of an emergency incident.”
I took particular interest in the sample best practice document titled “Pledge to My Peers” that frankly, is appropriate to “kids of all ages” in our fire departments.
This report will undoubtedly go a long way in creating clear and effective guidance for anyone involved in sponsoring and supporting youth programs in the fire service. As they rightfully acknowledged, it’s long overdue and a huge step in the right direction of ensuring that our nation’s young people are integrated into the fire service safely and properly.
I encourage everyone to read it, digest it and take action on its recommendations. It’s a huge win for making sure that we still have Run-to-the-Curb type kids running to the curb of the fire service for years to come.