The Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department overcame social-distancing limitations to organize a tour of Fire Station 1 for Cub Scout Pack 149 Tuesday via video conference.
Pack 149’s Wolf Den, which meets weekly through virtual means, took the tour as part of a Hometown Heroes elective program, said Maj. Valerie Hauer, the pack’s committee chair.
Cub scouts need to “visit a community agency where they’ll find many heroes,” she said. “While there, they’ll find out what they do and share with the den what they learned.”
She said Hometown Heroes is a requirement for advancing through the pack.
“With that requirement, and with COVID-19 being what it is, they could not go and visit in-person,” she said. “I reached out to the fire department to see if they would mind doing a virtual tour … so they could finish out this achievement and earn it.”
Wolf Den’s leader, Joseph Hauer, said many of the cub scouts have parents in the military, but that it was a goal to introduce them to other people in uniform.
“We wanted the (scouts) to get an appreciation for what the first responders here do for the installation,” he said, “To get a feeling of what that job entails, what a fireman does, and how the fireman interacts with the community – to give them an exposure to other jobs.”
Fire Chief Bradley Bowling coordinated the tour. He said it was educational and demonstrated to the scouts what life inside a fire station looks like.
“(The tour) covered the offices, classrooms, kitchen and living areas to show how a fire station is more like a house than an office, which a lot of folks don’t realize,” he said. “We go through the different trucks showing them what they carry and talking through how they are different. We throw in some general fire safety topics such as sleeping with the door shut to prevent fire spread, changing your smoke detector batteries, having a fire extinguisher in the house, stop drop and roll and having an escape plan.”
Bowling said he enjoys teaching the younger generations.
“Public education is a keystone of the fire service,” he said. “If we can teach kids while young, these skills are things they grow up doing and will carry over into adulthood, which could very well save a life at some point.”
The department has missed the regular social interactions they have with community members, Bowling said, but technology helps to bridge the gap.
“Fire departments love to have the scouts and other members of the community stop by and interact with them,” he said. “By using technology such as social media, live streams, etc., we can essentially and safely invite the community back into our fire stations, which we have had to close to the public due to everything going on.”
Hauer said scouts will be required to interview firemen in the future, so his den’s interaction with FLWFD is likely far from finished.
Pack 149 is open to both boys and girls. For more information, parents can email firstname.lastname@example.org.