Education

Hackensack Fire Department Shows Bergen County Youth Police Academy the Ropes (and Ladders, and Hoses)

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Michael Wilson of the NJ Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board shows the cadets how overhead fire sprinklers can contain a home fire Credits: Dan Knitzer
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A cadet gets blasted with a hose going down the zipline Credits: Dan Knitzer
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Cadets prepare to crawl through a confined space, simulating exercises where firefighters may need to carry citizens to safety Credits: Dan Knitzer
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Cadets ask questions about flashover fires Credits: Dan Knitzer
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A cadet gets blasted with a hose going down the zipline Credits: Dan Knitzer
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HACKENSACK, NJ -- The 14th annual Bergen County Youth Police Academy cadets visited the Hackensack Fire Department today, for exciting exercises that could help save lives.

The more that 100 students come from 35 towns in Bergen County, and all either live in the County or go to high school in the County. The two-week program is offered free of charge by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and Bergen County Sheriff's Office, and funded through the use of funds forfeited from criminal enterprises.

"I can't say the exact cost on our end, but it is a sizable investment," said  Maureen Parenta Communications Director for the BCPO. "This program has a good mix of kids who have shown an interest in a career in law enforcement, and [those less interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement]."

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The program has about 30 instructors, from the BCPO and Bergen County Sheriff's Office, as well as local Police Departments and Fire Departments. According to Parenta, over one-third of the young cadets are female, demonstrating the efforts made by the BCPO and Sheriff's Office to foster inclusion.

Cadets spent previous days doing team building exercises, meeting with municipal police officers, at SWAT and K-9 demonstrations, and other activities, but Thursday was devoted singularly to fire safety. 

In one area of the Hackensack Fire Department lot, students were ziplining from a second floor window down to a padded area, to simulate emergency evacuation of a burning building. To make the simulation more real, the cadets were blasted with water from fire hoses. It appeared some of the "favored" students were held in midair longer than others, while being blasted with the hose.

In another station, cadets were shown how fire sprinklers can contain fires in a container trailer which was set aflame while the cadets and instructors watched from outside. 

"Flashover is when every combustible item in the room is set off," said Michael Wilson, of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. "Fire sprinklers will prevent flashover."

According to Wilson, installing fire sprinklers throughout an entire house costs about as much as installing marble counter tops in a kitchen. 

In yet another station, students crawled through pipes using stokes baskets with straps, to simulate saving the life of an unconscious or wounded person in a fire.

Cadets in every station were encouraged to ask questions, and "speak loud and proud." The motto of the Bergen County Youth Police Academy is "Honor--Respect--Commitment." The program will with a graduation of Friday, July 20 at Paramus High School.

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