WANAQUE, N.J. — Wanaque Fire Department found a new way to attract the next generation with a junior program started in 2016.
The junior firefighter system for teens ages 16 to 18 allows potential members to see what it's like as a part of the department, Chief Mark A. Olivieri said.
"It will entail everything we can do as regular firemen, they just can't go in a burning building," Olivieri told Daily Voice. "They'll be trained with us."
The juniors have a few more limitations, such as being home by 11 p.m. and keeping their grades up.
Wanaque has three teenagers ready to join and another one or two candidates still in the process of signing up, Olivieri said.
Borough officials decided to recruit younger after hearing about the success of similar programs in other towns. Olivieri said he tried for about a year to start it.
"Every department I talked to that's done it swears by it and loves it," the chief said.
Olivieri said joining the department gives high schoolers something to do, and could lead to more full-time members for Wanaque.
Some of the kids may leave the borough for college, but Olivieri said it helps to bring in like-minded teens.
"Most of the kids who are looking [to join] want to get into firefighting," he said. "They're always welcome to be in the firehouse with us. They want to get training and knowledge to help the community."
TO JOIN: Pick up an application to be a junior firefighter at the firehouse, 526 Ringwood Ave.
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