"Warren, you're last, I'd guess," someone shouted to Warren Lafferty, 17, of Pelham.
Warren, an Eagle Scout, came to the first meeting of the Explorers last week, because he wants to become a firefighter, an ambition shared by the six other prospective Explorers.
After a hiatus of several years, the Fire Department has decided to bring back the Explorers Post. Under the guidance of call firefighter Steve Brady, they held a kickoff meeting to go over the ground rules, and outfit themselves in protective coats, pants and boots donated by the Dracut (Mass.) Fire Department.
"This is old-school stuff," Brady said, pointing out the neoprene in the jackets.
He had the new post members cull through the pile of boots, trousers and coats until everybody found a pair and a coat that fit. The pants were harder to find in the right size and Brady joked about why the trousers come with suspenders.
Along with helmets and protective clothes, Brady said Pelham firefighters will give the Explorers realistic training, including practice working in smoky conditions with regular firefighters. Firefighters also will help them qualify to ride along with them on actual emergencies, but Explorers never go into a burning building to fight a fire.
The Explorers are designed to help young people gain an understanding of fire department work. Membership is open to youths 14 to 21 who have completed eighth grade. The organization requires active students to maintain a 2.0 grade-point average, and there are other rules about conduct, Brady said.
The group listened carefully while Brady read them the code of conduct and some basic safety rules they will be expected to follow. He warned them that Explorers have to stay out of trouble with the law, and cannot indulge in underage drinking, smoking or any illegal drug use.
"You get caught doing that, you're gone," he said.
Adam Fredrick, 20, of Salem said he came to the meeting because he wants to study fire science in college. Fredrick hopes to gain experience and an opportunity to win scholarships out of his experience with the Explorers.
Sean Narbonne, 14, of Pelham said he was looking at the Explorers because he wants to be a firefighter. Ryan Pitts, 17, and Cory Cashman, 15, both of Pelham, and James Midgely, 16, of Dracut also said they want to get into firefighting some day. Tom Gray, 16, of Pelham said he was there for the education.