Aaron West, The Triplicate

Aspiring young firefighters will be able to get more hands-on experience

Cooper Fire Station, which became a substation when Crescent City Fire Department moved to its new headquarters more than a decade ago, has some new occupants to take care of the premises.

The 14 members of Explorer Force 343, a group sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America that aims to teach aspiring firefighters the ropes, celebrated an open house - complete with burgers, hot dogs, and potato salad - at the substation last Thursday.

"The open house went great, a big success," Captain James Weiland, who advises the force, said.

Besides bringing in the Explorers, which started using the facility two months ago, the building also recently got a new coat of interior paint, a thorough cleaning, plans for new carpet, and something every aspiring firefighting team needs - a fire truck to practice on.

Thanks to the truck, an out-of-service 1976 International model that the Fire Department donated to the Explorer Force a few months ago, the amateur firefighters can now practice pulling hose, spraying water and reloading hose, according to Weiland.

"They wanted something they could use to train with, something they could keep clean and learn how things work on an engine," Crescent City Fire Chief Steve Wakefield said. "We're glad we could repurpose the engine for good use. They can take pride in it."

Besides the practice the kids get with the truck, the Explorers meet at the substation on Thursdays and wash Fire Department trucks, clean the truck bay, and raise the flag, among other duties.

Explorer Force meets at the Cooper Station on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Any parents with kids between the ages 14andndash;21 who are interested in joining the Explorer Force should contact Captain James Weiland at 954-2063.

Reach Aaron West at awest@triplicate.com.