by JULIE B. MAGLIO
The cadet program was discussed at the April 23, 2019 BOCC meeting under the following item:
PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR/FIRE CHIEF SCOTT HECHLER; Hernando County Fire Rescue Cadet Program
The program is explained in the agenda packet:
“Hernando County Fire Rescue (HCFR) was a sponsor of a Fire Explorer Program that was managed by volunteers from the Hernando County Fire Rescue rank and file. The explorer program targeted 14 -16-year old’s and shared with them what the roles and responsibilities are of fire and emergency service in the community. It also gave those that may be interested in volunteering or a career in fire and emergency services, an opportunity to observe and work as a team in gaining the knowledge and skills needed in this field.
“Hernando County Fire Rescue has recently revamped the Fire Explorer Program and is now modeling it after a Cadet Program. The Cadet Program is a youth organization that was created by the Florida Fire Chiefs Association. This program is utilized widely at fire departments throughout the state of Florida.
“Hernando County Fire Rescue is seeking approval to become as the Chartered Organization for this program in Hernando County. The program would then be implemented and managed by volunteers from the Hernando County Fire Rescue department, with oversight from the Hernando County Fire Rescue administration.”
Tony Carolla, a Captain with Hernando County Fire Rescue Station 14 said they’ve been developing the program for nearly a year.
Michael Rich, a driver/engineer at HCFR Station 4 (on Mariner across from St. Frances Cabrini) went through a presentation about the program. The mission of the program is to, “Help develop future firefighters by ensuring leaders of the program have the resources to provide purposeful training in fire, emergency medical treatment and leadership development.” Only participants ages 16-20 would be able to ride on the HCFR Units after they’ve gone through training and testing. All HCFR employees will receive “Protect Our Youth Training.”
“It’s a tremendous program. Pasco County has been running it for at least three years that I am familiar with… They’ve had great success with it down there,” said Rich.
There will be no financial impact to the county or fire department. They will start out with 15 cadets in the program.
The board approved the charter of HCFR as the program sponsor for the cadet program.