There's a burning need for more volunteer firefighters across the nation, but locally, the nearly 45 active members of the Ballston Lake Fire Department (BLFD) are working to promote the long-standing tradition of recruiting their children to step into their boots as the next generation of volunteers.
Through the Young Adult Volunteers Apprentice Program (YAVAP), teens 16-18 years old can begin training and go through much of the instruction received by the adults. They operate under some restrictions, such as being barred from entering burning structures, performing roof ventilation operations, or driving fire trucks.
Five Burnt Hill-Ballston Lake High School students, who are the sons and daughters of active volunteers were recently welcomed into the extended family of the BLFD.
The young adult volunteers are Brian Little, who joins his father, David; Eli Willig, joining his father, Paul; Constance Waugh, joining mother, Susanna Newton; David Wood, joining J.D.; and Tyler Farrar, joining Doug.
A mother-daughter team
Susanna Newton and daughter Constance Waugh, 17, a senior at the BH-BL High School, joined the ranks of the BLFD together about a year ago.
Although they are not the first female volunteers, they are the first mother-daughter team.
We wanted to give back to the community, and this was what we chose, said Newton. "As soon as my mother said she was joining, I immediately said I'd join, too," said Waugh.
Both petite women, they said it has been an ongoing physical challenge to carry 70-pound packs and handle heavy hoses, but they're up to that challenge.
"The air packs are heavy, and the breathing apparatus takes a long time to get used to, but we've learned to go through walls and access buildings with the hose, and we're going to soon go into practice fires," said Waugh. "That's when it really gets interesting."