FIRST “OFFICIAL, HANDS-ON” JOB
Nicholas Hayes, a rising junior at Loch Raven High, is not too proud to admit that when he began his summer job with the Baltimore County Fire Department, he knew nothing about the agency. “I just knew that they fight fires,” Nicholas says.
Now Nicholas says that working for the Fire Department is one of his top three career choices.
It was his mother, Nicholas says, who submitted his application to the county’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Nicholas, a rising junior at Loch Raven High School, said he was having trouble finding a summer job and that he really wanted to work this summer. “I have spent so much time in the house because of COVID,” he says.
The county’s Summer Youth Employment Program places youth, ages 14 – 24, in paid positions with area businesses, organizations, schools, and government agencies. This summer, participating youth will work 25 hours each week from July 5 to August 13.
While Nicholas participated in the county’s Summer Youth Employment Program last year, too, his experience this summer is his first “official, hands-on” job. He explains, “Last summer, we worked online, learning job readiness skills.”
For his first “official, hands-on” job, Nicholas was extremely lucky to be assigned to Fire Specialist David Blenman as his supervisor. Blenman works in the Fire Marshal Office in the county’s Fire Department. He is a Fire Marshal, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, The Guardian Knights Inc., and has training in various aspects of fire code inspections, firefighting, and rescue. Blenman is committed to outreach, recruitment, and to ensuring that youth and community members gain a better understanding of the services and opportunities the Fire Department offers: the opportunity to serve, tuition reimbursement, fixed schedules, retirement, and more.
“My approach with Nicholas,” Blenman says, “is to make sure he has several different experiences within the department. I want to be sure he leaves us with a better knowledge of the Fire Department but also of local government and chain of command.”
A WHIRLWIND OF ACTIVITIES
Nicholas has enjoyed the experience from the start. Blenman had Nicholas learn CPR and first aid during his initial days, which Nicholas really enjoyed because they are such useful life skills.
Since then, Blenman says, “Nicholas met with the Fire Chief, the County Executive, and participated in a ride along with a medic. He has visited the 911 center and learned what they do and how they function. We have visited specialty stations, such as Urban Search and Rescue (ST17), Hazmat (ST14), and Decon (ST54) (decontamination). We are scheduled to also visit the marine unit and go out on a boat.”
Nicholas says he has learned so much this summer. “I didn’t know that the paramedics were a part of the Fire Department,” he says. “I thought they came from hospitals. I learned that firefighters go around once a year to check the fire hydrants. I got to go out with a crew and do that.”
He has visited a 1955 fire engine and learned about the mechanics of fire engines and that firefighters use foot pedals to honk their horns and turn the siren on.
“In the mechanical shop, they showed me how the ladder truck works,” Nicholas says. “I have really learned a lot! But for me the most surprising thing was about how the horns work.”
Blenman says that working with Nicholas is “awesome” and “an absolute pleasure,” and Blenman says that he would love to do more to share the many benefits of working for the county Fire Department with Baltimore County students.
“I learn things from Nicholas as well,” Blenman says. “He is very technologically skilled.”
ON THE LIST OF CAREER OPTIONS
When his summer job ends, Nicholas will have just two weeks of free time before the school year starts. He is excited about having a full year in school at Loch Raven High. His freshman year was cut short by the pandemic, and most of his sophomore year was virtual.
“I have been thinking about my plans for what to do after high school,” Nicholas says. “I like to cook and have thought about becoming a chef. I also like technology – like programming and games. But now that I have spent this time with the Fire Department. It is on my list now, too. The Fire Department is so much more than what I thought it was.”
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