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Pinckney uses ‘Explorer’ program to find career

A youth-focused firefighting program is helping to turn local youths into career-driven firefighters and paramedics, and one of the county’s incoming men began his career at the age of 14 as a volunteer with this program.
The Explorer Program through Colleton County Fire-Rescue (CCFR) is open to male and female youth in the county, who are from the ages 14-18. It teaches youth the ins-and-outs of the fire-rescue system, from how to use a fire truck to introductory EMT and on-site rescues. The volunteer program is a feeder into Colleton County Fire-Rescue, but it also taps into the state’s “Learning for Life” program.
“The ‘Learning for Life’ program is allows the explorers to start taking South Carolina Fire Academy classes at the age of 16. There are over 20 classes they can take either online or in the traditional classroom, as Explorers,” said Scott Feather, who oversees the Explorer Program through CCFR. Feather is also a Battalion Chief with Colleton County Fire-Rescue.
“The certifications they obtain are provisional … meaning they turn live when they turn 18,” he said.
The Explorers meet twice a month to learn the mechanics of the fire-rescue career. Specifically, Feather says the young volunteers learn about hose deployments, fire streams, hydraulic calculations, forcible entry, and more.
There are currently 22 Explorers in the program. “This number varies, based on age,” Feather said. “When the Explorers turn 18, they will transition into the adult side of Fire-Rescue.”
Justin Pinckney is one of the youngest-serving volunteers in Colleton’s program.
He started volunteering when he was a sophomore at Colleton County High School, at the age of 14. Now, at the age of 20, he should successfully become a full-time firefighter-EMT with Colleton County Fire-Rescue in 2019. He has been attending courses and obtaining certifications for the last few years.
“The program makes you value life, your own life and the life of others,” said Pinckney. “Colleton County Fire-Rescue and this program has changed me. From small things, like my driving, to seeing the bigger picture and being in my community. And I have relationships with people who are seasoned in this industry and who I respect. I call Battalion Chief (Scott Feather) my second dad.
“This program is real-life. You can’t turn the channel,” he said.
Pinckney is a Colleton County native. He is the son of now retired local law enforcement officer Dalphus Pinckney and Denise Pinckney, a victims’ advocate with the Yemassee Police Department. “I grew up seeing my parents serving the community and I knew I wanted to do something but I wasn’t sure what,” he said. “I got into the program and it’s been life-changing.
“This program is a great entry into the firefighting and medical field,” said Pinckney. “This is my calling.”
For more information on the Explorers Program, contact the Colleton County Fire-Rescue administrative offices at 843-539-1960.

Heather Walters (1502 Posts)