SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WFXR) — Veteran firefighters with Smith Mountain Lake’s Volunteer Fire Department took 30 cadets from Virginia Military Institute out onto the lake Monday to train for situations they may see when and if they join the Navy.
There are more than 55 members volunteering on fire crews around Smith Mountain Lake and they are starting to get noticed.
Through their newly cultivated relationship with VMI, they have been able to bring cadets out on the water for some hands-on learning experience. Monday, April 12 marked the first event that they have had, but hopefully, it will lead to many more in the future, cadets and instructors agree.
Lou Feldvary, a board member and member of the Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire and Rescue, says this is nothing to take lightly.
“These boats are 17,000 pounds, and with all sorts of equipment on it and to operate them it’s just a different, different situation altogether. Some of them have never driven a boat, some of them have never operated a boat, but operating these boats is completely different,” he continued.
Lt. Emily Shrum, who has been with the Navy for seven years, is just past 18 months as a VMI instructor. Shrum says being out of the classroom provides context.
“When I teach them in the classroom, they don’t get to relate what they see to written word. So as we’re here right now, I can quiz them and say this is what I meant, this is what you will actually see.”
Alex Feher, a second-year VMI Navy Cadet, called the experience invaluable.
“Getting some hands-on experience, to put what we’ve learned into practice has by far been the most useful and valuable thing we’ve done so far.”