LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — On Sept. 17, 2012, the day after her 14th birthday, Emily Hayre became a junior firefighter at Bush Volunteer Fire Department.
She grew up in the shadow of family members who belonged to the department and knew she wanted to help the people in her community.
Thirty-seven years earlier, in April 1975, her grandfather, Kenneth Smith, met with 12 other members of the Bush community to organize the fire department. He served the department as chief from 1975 to 1984.
In 1989 Emily’s dad, Keith, became a member and is currently serving as deputy chief. She also has an uncle and a cousin that are members and another cousin who is a junior firefighter.
To become a junior firefighter, a participant must be between the age of 14 and 17, complete a written application, have signed parental consent and the officers of the department must agree to accept them. Training is based on the age of the firefighter and consists of both classroom and hands-on training.
“Some required trainings include safety, first aid and CPR, use of your PPE (personal protection equipment), forcible entry, fire behavior and building construction,” she said.
“Because of my age, my training has been limited to mostly classroom and observation,” she added. “So, it hasn’t really been hard, but you cover a lot of material and information, and it is a lot to remember.”
A junior’s participation on a scene is controlled by the Kentucky Fire Commission and changes with age.
“A minimum of 23 training hours is required before we can participate on the scene of a fire or accident,” she said. “But, I have went to a few fires and one accident scene.”
Emily has received several training hours at the station and attended Regional Fire School last October. She has also had first aid and CPR training. But as a 14-year-old, her participation is limited. “I’m excited to turn 15 in September, so that I can have more hands-on involvement,” she said.