Local Teen Reignites Volunteer Program
Carlin Fire Cadets assist firefighters and serve the community
By Dianna Troyer
Allie Landrith never forgot how first responders brightened 1 of her darkest days.
“When my little brother Dean was in first grade, he had a serious playground accident and survived because the first responders from our fire department came so quickly,” says Allie, a senior at Carlin High School. “To give back for what they did, I decided as soon as I was old enough, I’d be involved with our department somehow.”
At age 14, she persuaded the Carlin Volunteer Fire Department to reinstate a program called Fire Cadets. Teens ages 14 to 18 learn firefighting skills, gain leadership experience, explore careers and do community service.
Since the program started in 2019 with Allie as the only member, it has grown to about 20 members. Participation in the 2-day summer Cadet Fire Camp has increased, too, from 10 in 2021 to 20 in 2022.
“We’re expecting 40 this summer,” Allie says. “The kids in the program have a lot of drive and want to learn. We have great adult advisers, too.”
Since the cadet program started, members have been committed to helping the department and community by:
- Assisting firefighters at incidents, cleaning equipment, restocking supplies, replacing and relaying hoses on the trucks, and setting up and tearing down for any event at the firehouse.
- Filling sandbags to protect homes from flooding.
- Presenting the flag during ceremonies for Memorial Day and Veterans Day events.
- Working the Carlin Cleanup.
- Assisting with the Sparky Fire Safety Program.
- Working countless events with Carlin Parks and Recreation.
- Helping the American Legion make public ADA compliant restrooms. Carlin Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Linda Bingaman has supported the Fire Cadets program from the start.
“A cadet program was active a few years ago, but as members graduated and/ or moved away, we didn’t have an active program,” Linda says. “Allie’s interest sparked the program back to life.”
Allie recalls brainstorming activities for the cadets.
“I wrote ideas for our first camp down as fast as I was thinking of them and ended up filling a whiteboard at the fire station,” she says.
When Linda walked in the room, Allie explained what she had done.
“I told her, ‘Let’s make it happen,’” Linda recalls.
About 20 cadets train monthly. The first Wednesday of the month is devoted to emergency medical service training. The third Wednesday focuses on firefighter training. All cadets may train with the regular members, who also train twice a month.
“On a case-by-case basis, we’ll respond to fires or accidents with the department,” Allie says. “We stay in a designated safe zone. Our jobs might be to change out SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) bottles, help with hose lays, rehab the truck after the incident, and provide water and food to firefighters.”
The highlight of the cadets’ program is their 2-day summer camp, scheduled the weekend after the Fourth of July at the Carlin City Park. Participants learn firefighter skills and use of personal protective equipment. They navigate an obstacle course, do teambuilding exercises and communication drills, take emergency medical courses, and listen to guest speakers.
They also inject levity into their learning.
“Of course we practice hose-handling, which sometimes results in a water fight,” Allie says.
The cadet program’s organizational structure ensures it will continue after Allie graduates in June. She plans to begin working as a seasonal wildland firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management.
To replace her, cadets will vote for a new captain. They will choose from a pool of members who have achieved the rank of officer. Members progress up tiers—rookie, cadet, leadership and officer—based on results of written and skills testing and an interview.
Volunteering at the local fire department is a family matter. When Allie’s brother Dean turned 14 last year, he joined the Fire Cadets. Their parents, Danyelle and Brandon, are volunteer firefighters. Allie’s experiences with the department inspired her career choice. Next fall, she will study fire science and suppression at the Truckee Meadows Community College Fire Academy.
“I want to specialize in fighting structure fires and eventually work in northern Nevada,” Allie says. “Wherever I work, ultimately I want to be the brightest spot in someone’s darkest day.”
To join the Fire Cadets or sign up for the summer camp, email the Carlin Volunteer Fire Department or call at 775-754-6969. The cadets’ activities can be viewed on the Carlin Fire Cadets Facebook page.
Fallen Firefighter Ceremony in May
Carlin Volunteer Fire Department’s Fire Cadets are rehearsing for one of their most poignant community service projects in May—performing traditional ceremonies for a fallen firefighter during the celebration of life for Thomas Bingaman. Details will be posted to the department’s Facebook page.
“We’re practicing our roles for the\ traditional bell ceremony and the arc of protection,” Allie says.
Thomas, a 39-year volunteer with the department and ambulance service, died January 31. He was a fire captain and advanced emergency medical technician, known for his dry sense of humor, compassion and wisdom. His dedication lives on through the cadets, a new generation energizing the department.
“Having the cadets in the memorial service and celebration means the world to me,” says his wife, Linda, the department’s fire chief since 2015. After taking an EMT class, she and Tom joined the department in 1984.
“While planning Tom’s service, my sons and I instantly agreed that the honor guard would include our department members and cadets,” Linda says. “He was very proud of the young members and their respect for the fire service. Seeing cadets learn and participate and understand the importance of community service was very important to him.”