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WVU Extension Fire Service offers Junior Firefighter Camp for youths

Campers learning at Junior Firefighter Camp

While the nation faces a shortage of firefighters, West Virginia University Extension Fire Service aims to help fix this problem, starting with youths from 15 different states. Junior Firefighter Camp prepares the next generation of firefighters and emergency operations personnel with real-life scenarios and experience.  

This weeklong camp will be held June 17-22, 2023, at the State Fire Academy at WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston. Junior Firefighter Camp is open to youths ages 14 to 17.  

“This camp will help increase the number of firefighters across the country,” Ralph McNemar, WVU Extension Fire Service program coordinator, said. “Youths should participate in this camp because they will not find another like it, with all the tasks that junior firefighters get to complete. We pride ourselves in spending time on each topic and getting them excited about firefighting as a profession or as a volunteer.” 

Under the supervision of trained professionals, campers will receive a wide range of hands-on fire and emergency services training and education to serve their communities. Throughout the week, campers will learn to perform water, rope and ladder rescues, fight fires in various locations, tie knots, operate a fire extinguisher, learn how to handle a mass casualty incident and leave with a certification in first aid and CPR.  

“We go through several scenarios in which campers practice searching for victims, such as using our burn trailers to smoke them out or conducting rope operations to extricate a victim,” McNemar said. “Whatever a fire department does, we give the campers a little taste of it at camp. We run the camp like a fire department would run. The hope of this camp is to develop junior firefighters to be future leaders of their communities.” 

Camp curriculum will focus on a wide variety of fire and emergency responses with each evening concluding with free time. In addition to practical training, the curriculum focuses on teamwork, discipline and leadership.  

“At the beginning of the week, campers are divided into companies, and each day, one of them takes a turn being the company officer,” McNemar said. “The officer must account for the company’s personnel, make sure everyone is hydrated and report any problems that may arise. At the end of the camp, the junior firefighters vote on an officer to be the camp fire chief. The fire chief is someone who was a leader and went above and beyond to help their company and the other companies throughout the week.”  

Youths who have attended the camp before can return and advance in the level of difficulty contained in the curriculum. To become a volunteer firefighter in West Virginia, you must complete the Fire Fighter I training course, which the camp prepares you for.  

The registration cost is $375, and the deadline to register is June 4, 2023. To register a camper, visit  

To learn more about WVU Extension Fire Service, visit on Facebook. 

To learn more about WVU Extension, visit or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.   



CONTACT: Sophia Darmelio 

Marketing Strategist 

WVU Extension