MUSCATINE, Iowa — The Muscatine Fire Department is bringing back a program focused on career exploration.
Firefighters have a way of finding a flame.
"The men and women that are in this career, they’re very proud," said Ben Barrett, a firefighter with the Muscatine Fire Department.
Barret has made a career out of a passion, growing up in a small town with a volunteer fire department.
"I started on the volunteer service in my early 20s," Barrett said.
That passion for community service is why Barret is now helping reignite Muscatine's fire and EMS explorer program.
That program plans to meet twice each month, focusing on firefighter training and leadership skills.
"We’re working on a two-week academy style training that we’ll be doing during the summer," Barrett added.
It's a hands-on program that will give anyone ages 14 to 21 a glimpse into the daily life of a firefighter.
"It’s going to challenge them physically and mentally," Barrett said.
"It’s not just a job. It’s not just a career. It is a lifestyle," said Mike Hartman, the assistant chief for the Muscatine Fire Department.
Hartman is bringing the explorer program back after two years of the pandemic.
"We have had an explorer program like this off an on for at least 20 years," Hartman said.
Hartman is excited about this new explorer program, with several firefighters in the department taking on leadership roles as it begins. He hopes the program inspires the next generation of Muscatine's first responders.
"I want our EMTs and paramedics and firefighters coming onto the job now to be really good because I will need them in a few years, one way or another," Hartman said.
According to Barrett, the number of firefighters joining the force has declined over the last few years, and this program will help bring in the next group of firefighters.
This program will help Muscatine's next firefighters find their own flame.
The Muscatine Fire Department is hosting an information session on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. for anyone interested in being part of the program.
If you miss the program or would like more information, you can contact Assistant Chief Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org.