Call of duty: Hampton twins, 13, volunteer as junior firefighters

Published 12:01 am Friday, May 1, 2015

NW0501 Hampton Junior Firefighters A

Being a firefighter is a calling. Some people answer that call a little earlier than others.

Alex and Adam Keyes, 13-year-old twins from Hampton, are junior firefighters with the Hampton/Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department. They are also the youngest junior firefighters in Carter County.

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The brothers, along with their father Craig Keyes, joined the HVFVFD in January. Adam led the way, joining on a Friday, with his father and brother joining a few days later.

“Being a firefighter is just something I have always wanted to do,” Adam said.

Members of the Hampton fire department had been working to get Craig to join, but he was hesitant.

“I didn’t want to at first because it would pull me away from my boys, and work does that enough,” Craig Keyes said. “When we found out they could be junior firefighters, and they wanted to do it first, then it worked out.”

To be a junior firefighter, the volunteer must be between the ages of 13 and 18 and have his or her parents’ permission. Junior firefighters are allowed to answer fire calls only after school, and then until only 10 p.m., unless they have their parents’ approval to go on the later calls.

Being a junior firefighter is not necessary to become a member of the volunteer fire department, chief Johnny Isaacs said, but many of the members in the department did get their start that way.

“It helps us out by having them be a part of the department because we do not have to do as much on the scene to take away from what we have been called to do,” he said. “Alex and Adam are really good at what they do. They have been working hard and are making sure they know the equipment.”

As junior firefighters, Adam and Alex help out around the station, wash the fire trucks and help make sure the equipment is in good working order. On emergency calls, they make sure the other firefighters’ oxygen tanks are filled and have replacements ready. They also pull hoses and take tools to where they are needed. They are not allowed to enter a burning structure to help put out a fire.

The brothers have completed different training courses to help them be ready on the scene to help when they are needed, but they took it a step further to make sure they would be able to handle whatever they came up against.

“We practiced switching the air tanks in the station in the dark just in case we were ever on a scene and there were no lights,” Alex said. “It was pretty easy to do, but so far we have never been anywhere that it has been completely dark.”

In their five months with the fire department, the pair have helped out on numerous house fires, a car fire and a few brush fires. The first call they responded to was a house fire on Anderson Loop in Valley Forge.

When they got their first call, they didn’t hesitate to respond.

“Your adrenaline kicks in and you just go,” Adam said.

“All of your training comes to you, and you just know what to do,” Alex added.

While the pair have been doing a lot of the same tasks on the scenes, Craig has already noticed his sons have separate interests.

“Adam is more interested in being at the front fighting the fires,” he said. “Alex likes to be with the trucks running the hoses and making sure everything is as it needs to be.”

The pair plan to stay with the fire department until they are 18 so they can become volunteer firefighters.

“I am going to stick with it,” Alex said. “I want to help people.”

“Yeah, helping people is why we do it,” Adam agreed.

Just to show that life as a junior volunteer firefighter is never predictable, just as the interview was ending, Alex, Adam and Craig were called on to respond to a brush fire in Butler.