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The New Hampshire Fire Explorer Training Academy was the dream of a small group of fire service personnel from the Goffstown, New Hampshire area. They wanted to find a way to bring fire Exploring to the next level. They envisioned a program that would offer young adults an outstanding educational, practical and fun experience based upon the values and traditions of the fire service. At that time, many departments had Exploring programs that offered fragmented training for their own members. The group hoped that this program would provide New Hampshire fire Explorers more consistent training and an opportunity to network with other young adults that had similar interests. In 1990, the group came together and met with Exploring executives from the Daniel Webster Council of the Boy Scouts of America to discuss the concept and began planning the program.
The first class of the New Hampshire Fire Explorer Training Academy (NHFETA) was held in June 1991. The first Academy was a weekend long program held at New Hampshire College in Henniker, NH. Both cadets and advisors agreed that the program was a huge success. It was determined that the program could easily be expanded into a full week long residential program. In 1992, NHFETA became a five day program that was filled with unique hands on fire service training. At that time, NHFETA became the first fire Exploring program in the nation to offer Explorers the opportunity to take NFPA certified Firefighter 1 courses. The unique design of the program allowed cadets to attend for multiple years and receive full credit by the NH Fire Standards and Training when they turned eighteen years of age.
One of the challenges that the program faced was the availability of equipment, training props and other resources to conduct the hands on evolutions. In the early years of the program, the cadets would have to be bused off campus to different locations including the Concord Fire Training facility on Loudon Road. The staff also relied heavily on donations from area departments to provide equipment and apparatus. The program continued to grow and expand over the years. In 1996, the NHFETA moved to the campus of the old Mt. St. Mary College in Hooksett in order to better meet the educational needs of the program.
One of the biggest changes for the NHFETA occurred in 1997. When the newly built New Hampshire Fire Academy opened in Concord, the NHFETA was invited by Director Rick Mason to use the new facilities and dormitory. The NHFETA was the first residential program to use the new facility to its fullest capabilities. This very generous offer has allowed every Cadet the opportunity to utilize the state of the art facilities, access to many State Instructors and true familiarization with life as a firefighter recruit in the State of NH. The program has continued to develop and flourish at this facility.
Currently, the NHFETA is a week long residential program. Our all volunteer staff is comprised of some of the most experienced members of New Hampshire’s career and volunteer Fire Departments and Rescue Squads. Many of our past and current staff members are graduates of the program and we still have several members that were part of the original planning committee. These members dedicate their time throughout the year in order to develop and plan to make the program a success. We now have cadets that come from all over the country to experience our program. The cadets have access to some of the best instructors as well as state-of-the-art equipment and training facilities available in today’s fire service. Classroom education is merely a small portion of the program. Hands-on experience gives cadets the ability to perform in real-life situations in safe controlled environments. However, this structured program is not only designed for mental and physical challenge, but also for team building, communication skills, problem solving, personal growth, individual achievement and of course fun.
The program has changed immensely since its humble beginnings in 1991. But, some things have remained true. The dedication, passion, vision and commitment of the cadets and staff has never changed. The NHFETA was created with a simple idea among great friends who aspired to provide an outstanding opportunity for local youth interested in the Fire and Emergency services. Little did we know, that this program would evolve into a unique experience for youth from all over the US that would result in more confident individuals with a strong sense of commitment, teamwork, pride, respect and community service.