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Farmington's Fire Explorers are, from left to right in the front row, Tyler Stone, Sara Borntrager, Hailey Franks, Jennefer Elfering and Alexandra Sitzman. In back are Kyle Ellefson, Lt. Drew Hanson, Lt. Justine Perron and Robin Ellis. Not pictured: Kyle Kratz.

Farmington fire explorers second in state skills competition

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Farmington Fire Explorer Post 9470 advisor Christopher Matek is pretty proud of the young men and women in the local Explorer post. Last Friday, they took second place in a statewide skills test at the Minnesota State Fair.

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That's significantly better than the group did last year, when Post 9470 -- then in its first year as an Explorer program -- came in second to last.

The competition was held Aug. 24 as part of the Governor's Fire Prevention Day activities at the fair. Twenty-one posts from around the state participated in five events, all held in Carousel Park at the fairgrounds.

The posts were scored on a public education presentation; gear donning, which included putting on all of their equipment; spinal immobilization; search and rescue, where they had to remove a 160-pound mannequin from a room; and ladder raising, where they had to carry set up, and climb a ladder.

"They were on scored times, too. They had to be done correctly and they had to be done quickly," Matek said.

After each of the activities, the Explorers also had to answer a series of questions related to the activity they had just completed. The test questions come from the state of Minnesota.

Farmington entered the competition last year for the first time. They were a new club at the time, and didn't fare well. But after coming in second to last in 2011, the group spent a lot of time working on skills to get ready for this year's competition. The skills sheets are given out a couple of months ahead of time, so Post 9470 spent every meeting working on the skills just to get ready for the 2012 contest.

The Explorer post in Woodbury took first place. Matek said he and the Farmington group are okay with coming in second, because this was only their second time participating in the skills competition. Since the local post isn't even a full two years old, Farmington's group is perfectly fine with their achievement. In fact, they were a little bit surprised.

"After they said Farmington got second, a couple of us kind of just stared at each other. It was like, 'What do we do now? Oh, get up there and accept the award,'" Matek said. "I have to say, they did a hell of a job."

The Farmington Fire Explorers also participated in the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service at the bandshell Friday morning.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard started covering the Farmington community in June, 1994. Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the Farmington American Legion Auxiliary Unit 189, and acts as the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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