By Victoria Espinoza

Stop drop and enroll in Dix Hills’ first-ever junior fire academy, a one-week summer program designed to introduce children between the ages of 12 and 14 to the volunteer fire service.

Commissioner Todd Cohen said the program will give kids an understanding of how the fire department works and what it means to be a volunteer there.

“Our academy will be tailored for the community,” he said in a statement. “We’re working hard to not only provide the kids with valuable knowledge and hands-on skills, but also to give them a fun week. This program gives youngsters a unique set of skills. There’s nothing else like it on Long Island — it’s truly one of a kind.”

Kids who attend the academy will learn fire safety, CPR, first aid, leadership and respect, as well as receive a Heartsaver certification card from the American Heart Association. There will also be limited hands-on training for hose-handling and rescue techniques. Kids will be taken on field trips to the Yaphank Fire Academy, the Suffolk County EMS call center, the Islip airport fire rescue department and more. Firefighters from the Dix Hills Fire Department will run the program.

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D), a Dix Hills resident, said she was excited to partner the town parks department with the fire department to launch the program.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn all they can about the department,” she said. “It is our hope that this program will inspire students to join the fire department and instill in them a sense of volunteerism and responsibility. It promises to be a fun and rewarding experience for all involved. This is the first of its kind on Long Island.”

According to a press release, the idea began 15 years ago at the Cold Spring Fire Department in Putnam County. The academy grew immensely popular and, as a result, has been replicated throughout the country. Cohen and Todd Baker, a Dix Hills firefighter, are working with the originators of Cold Spring’s program to successfully duplicate it in Dix Hills.

The academy runs from Aug. 15 to 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dix Hills Fire Department Headquarters at 115 East Deer Park Road. Registration opens on June 3.