Rockford has a fire department that is unlike many others, Boy Scouts from Troop 264 learned during a tour of the station on Thursday, June 21. Firefighter Robert Berkstressor welcomed the youngsters and told them he is a believer in the value of Scouting and earned the organization’s highest honor of Eagle Scout in 1976. He said the lessons he learned as a Scout helped him in his career in the United States Air Force, and in his nine years as a Kent County Sheriff deputy before being hired full time in the Rockford Fire Department 17 years ago. Rockford’s fire department is what is called a “combination” department, a mix of full- and part-time and paid on-call firefighters. He said being a firefighter is a career for men and women, and Rockford has three women on its force. Berkstressor said Rockford used to have staff on for 24-hour shifts, but has changed its structure. Now fire personnel work 12-hour shifts and after hours wear a beeper in case a call comes in. Paid on-call firefighters respond to incidents such as fires, car crashes, illness, collapsed buildings (called confined space rescue) and more. Having a home escape plan in case of emergency is something every family can do to be more safe, Berkstressor noted. He showed kids and their parents the safety exits in the fire station should there be an emergency during the tour. Having a fire/smoke detector installed in the home in the recommended places is one of the most important safety steps everyone should take, he advised. He gave a half-dozen examples of fatal fires in which children and adults were killed, pointing out that in each there was no working smoke detector in the home. “A ten or fifteen dollar smoke detector could have made the difference in each of these examples,” Berkstressor said. In addition to having a smoke detector on each floor of a home, it is also important to have one in every room where people sleep. Berkstressor said smoke detectors used to require new batteries once a year, but now batteries last the lifetime of the device—about 10 years. “If you have one older than that, replace it,” he said. Other tips for fire safety include not […]
Rockford Boy Scout Troop 264
Rockford Boy Scout Troop 264 celebrated its 100th birthday with a three-day Scout Exhibition at the Rockford Community Cabin August 26 to 28. The Exhibition was planned and executed by the Scouts themselves under the leadership of John Reedy and Michael Julien with guidance from Assistant Scoutmaster Jennie Betz and Troop Committee Chair Beth Reedy. Each day began and ended with a flag ceremony. A model campsite was set up featuring tents, an ax yard and first aid station. Scouts demonstrated the safe use and care of axes and hatchets and various first aid techniques. An archway was constructed with poles lashed together and the Scouts demonstrated knot tying and even built a bridge over Rum Creek using only poles, planks and rope. Inside the Community Cabin, were a display of Scout memorabilia and a history of the Troop from its founding as Troop 1 by Merritt Lamb in 1910 to the present. Saturday, the Scouts built a bonfire which they used to retire American flags according to the flag code. A Court of Honor was held to present the Scouts with merit badges and rank advancements they had earned. A total of 188 merit badges were earned by 41 different Scouts and 27 of the Scouts earned rank advancements. Gerald R. Ford Council Scout Executive Michael Sulgrove addressed the assembly on the importance of Scouting and congratulated the Troop on being the first in the Council to complete 100 years of service.
Michigan’s Secretary of State, Terri Lynn Land, was the guest speaker recently at the weekly meeting of Rockford Boy Scout Troop 264. After congratulating the Scouts on their upcoming 100th anniversary, Land informed the Scouts that her office sends out the official congratulatory letter from the state of Michigan for Scouts achieving the rank of Eagle. Land then spoke about her start in politics which included working on Gerald R. Ford’s presidential campaign. She described the dual aspects of her job, including vehicle/boat registration and licensing, and elections supervision. She also discussed the improvements she has made to streamline her office so it will function more efficiently and cost-effectively. Land also addressed how serving as Michigan’s Chief Election Official is important in maintaining that fair and free elections are conducted. She emphasized how the Scouts can participate in the election process, even if they are not old enough to vote or are not running for office, by helping at the precincts on election days. Following a question-and-answer period, the Scouts presented Land with an autographed troop photograph, including Land, as a thank-you gift.