Fire Explorers get real-world training

Early College High School, Costa Mesa, graduate Ruben Morales, 20, was one of several fire Explorers to get their hands a little dirty on Wednesday during a training session at Costa Mesa Fire Station 4 on Placentia Avenue.

The Orange County Explorers, including several from the Costa Mesa post, learned how to use a jackhammer, move heavy objects, rescue someone and rappel down a five-story building during the one-day session.

"It was pretty brutal," Saxon Lyons, 17, of Lake Forest said of using the jackhammer. "It was pretty heavy."

Still, Saxon enjoyed the training, especially how to use heavy tools, which he said is useful if a building collapses or an earthquake occurs.

On Tuesday the Explorers visited the Orange County Great Park to learn about fighting wildfires, said Orange County Fire Authority Division Chief Michael Moore. In light of the recent loss of 19 firefighters with the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew, the Explorers focused on having escape zones, proper lookouts and fire shelters, Moore said.

Josh Martinez, 20, of Santa Ana said he appreciated the real-world training.

"It's definitely a great experience to use tools you read about in books," he said.

As part of the five-day training program, Explorers will next learn how to extract victims from vehicles. On Saturday they are scheduled to graduate from the program at a ceremony at Vanguard University, according to Exploring Director Lane Calvert.

The Costa Mesa Fire Explorer Post is open to Orange County residents 16 to 21 years old who have a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.

For Morales, the experience gave him new insight into his career plans. Initially interested in law enforcement, he is now considering marrying his interests in that and fire service by becoming an arson investigator.

The same held true for Savannah Grant, 20, of Mission Viejo, who hopes to connect her interests in nursing and firefighting by becoming a paramedic.

"I enjoy it," Grant said of the Explorer program. "I like the competition."

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