Participants in the Orr’s and Bailey Islands Fire Department’s new First Responder Accession Program learn how to deploy fire hose.

The Orr’s and Bailey Islands Fire Department has launched a new program to recruit local young people and inspire them to train as first responders.

All but a few of the department’s firefighters, emergency medical personnel and drivers are at least 50 years old. Some are in their 60s and 70s. Older members are essential to any volunteer fire department. They often have extensive experience and knowledge, and they may have more time to respond to calls. However, departments need young members to replace retiring members, and they need members with the strength and stamina required for the arduous tasks of firefighting and emergency medical services.

The First Responder Accession Program was developed by Meriel Longley, a firefighter and paramedic; and Sean Hall, a firefighter and emergency medical technician. Both Longley and Hall work for the town as municipal firefighters and serve with volunteer departments.

Future first responders use a dummy to practice first aid.

The First Responder Accession Program is free and meets at the Orr’s Island Fire Station every Thursday night for training and demonstrations. It is open to young residents, ages 16 and up, from anywhere in town. There are currently eight participants, all 25 or younger.

Trainings teach essential skills such as CPR and first aid, water rescue techniques, fire hose deployment and use, forcible entry, and fire behavior. Participants have also had opportunities to earn specialized certifications as wildland firefighters and ice rescue technicians.

OBIFD hopes some participants will go on to obtain certifications for interior firefighting, emergency medical response and driving emergency vehicles. The program has so far proven to engage and empower participants and to provide camaraderie and a sense of community spirit.

To sign up for the program, email Hall at or Longley at