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Teens get close-up look at firefighting
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Reserve firemen Seth Davis and Mike Loomis demonstrated to the student ambassadors just how to use the Jaws of Life in dismantling a car that has been in a crash with a trapped motorist inside. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Crawling through a simulated attic ducting, dismantling a car with the Jaws of Life and ascending to the top of the Manteca Fire Department’s new aerial ladder was all part of the day Tuesday for a dozen Manteca Chamber of Commerce Junior Ambassadors.

The Junior Leadership Academy – as it is called – began its day at the department’s Powers Avenue Station One at 8 a.m. and were put through the paces of fire training until almost 2 p.m.  There were students from Manteca, East Union and Sierra high schools along with participants from Joshua Cowell, McParland and Golden West elementary schools.

The students were treated to catered lunch barbecued by the firefighters themselves.

`The leadership program runs for 10 months focusing on a different topic each month.  Past events have included city government, team building and the press.   The youth members have also been to the military recruiting station on North Main Street and to the Venture Academy in Stockton where they ran obstacle courses in PT challenges.

One of the ambassadors, Lynsey Maraspini, 17,  a Manteca High junior, said she wants to enter into the fire service after she graduates from college.  She plans to go to MJC first and then transfer to a four-year college.

She said she is questioned about her present choice of vocation because she is small and she is a girl.  “It is something I’m interested in – I want to save people.”  She added that if it’s not the fire department, it will definitely be nursing.

The one thing she sees as her biggest challenge as a fireman would be lifting heavy people and getting  them out of a building.

One of the last courses that faced them Tuesday afternoon – wearing full firemen’s turnout gear – was dropping through a simulated roof and crawling through attic ducting to reach the outside.

Firemen explained how the smallest fire fighter must go through the hole they made in the roof – not the largest fireman.  They are all presumably wearing oxygen tanks on their backs and have to drop them through the opening before they enter.

They were told that normally two firemen are together on the roof of a burning house and they never know just what is going to happen.

 “You can fall through the roof,” they warned.

Savanah Lamb, a McParland eighth grader, said she had never done anything like that before, saying that it was fun.  “It was hard crawling through the small spaces,” she said.  Savanah added that she definitely wants to be a fireman some day.

Tadaysha Martin, a Golden West eighth grader, said it was “kinda scary” for her as she told a fellow student, “Feel my heart – feel my heart.”