FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Fire Department is looking for future recruits. The Explorer Program is for young adults interested in a career as a firefighter.
Fresno firefighter Robert Lee still remembers his time as an explorer.
"I joined when I was 18 years old," said Lee. "I went into this program knowing nothing, had no family in the fire service. I didn't know anybody and when I left the program, I knew most of the members of the Fresno Fire Department."
Lee joined the program as a teenager and never looked back.
"I'd do my day job and go ride along at Station 3, the busiest station in town," said Lee. "I'd spend the night there, I'd get to run fires and see all these amazing things."
He credits the program with launching his career as a firefighter.
"It instilled the seed of this is the job I want to do and I can't imagine doing anything else" said Lee.
Lee worked for multiple departments on the Central Coast and CAL FIRE before making his way back to Fresno and taking over the explorer program himself.
"It provides hands-on training to young adults interested in the fire service," explained Lee. "Pulling hose lines, throwing ladders, tying ropes and knots, extricating people from vehicles."
After pausing the program due to COVID-19, the explorer program is back and better than ever with 16 vacancies they're ready to fill.
"It's really exciting and you really get your hands dirty," said Lee. "You get this life experience you don't get anywhere else."
Participants will get hands-on experience and learn from the best exactly what it takes to be a firefighter, attending bi-weekly meetings every Saturday morning.
You learn so much, you gather all these life skills you carry in whatever direction you go in life," said Lee.
Applications open May 7th to anyone between the ages of 14-21. Meetings are bi-weekly on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. You can apply here.
FFD's Explorer Program open to youth interested in career as firefighter