Learning the ropes

Courier/Jo. L. Keener
Wes Overmyer, 13, crawls out from under a protective fire shelter Saturday, as Walker Fire¹s Bill Morgan watches. Scottsdale Troop 316 learned fire safety to qualify for their merit badges.

Courier/Jo. L. Keener Wes Overmyer, 13, crawls out from under a protective fire shelter Saturday, as Walker Fire¹s Bill Morgan watches. Scottsdale Troop 316 learned fire safety to qualify for their merit badges.

WALKER ­ Members of Scottsdale-based Boy Scout Troop 316 go camping or on other outings once a month.

Their daylong visit to the Walker Fire Station Saturday proved to be a treat because they rarely gain exposure to rural fire departments.

"Firefighting is hard work, lots of manual labor," troop member Kevin Schwab, 16, said as he used a shovel on a hill alongside of Walker Road to learn how to make a fire break.

Kevin was among 12 Scouts who made the trip to Walker with the intent of learning fire safety and prevention practices to qualify for the fire safety merit badge. They planned to earn as many as five points toward their badges Saturday and an additional six points on their own in their homes, Scoutmaster Bill Lazarus said.

Scout member David Richter, 13, made arrangements about three weeks ago for the merit badge project at the Walker Fire Station, located above Lynx Lake. His father, Joe, visits Walker on weekends and is involved in Scouting.

David is a Star Scout which is two steps away from becoming an Eagle Scout, Lazarus said.

The Scouts learned about fire trucks that the volunteer department uses to battle wildfires and how to use hand tools, training coordinator Bud Mellor said.

Mellor, a machine shop owner in Tempe who plans to retire to Walker in a month, referred to the list of five points that appeared on a whiteboard in a meeting room at the station. The list included visiting a fire station, explaining the costs of wildfires and how to prevent them, and reporting a fire and fire hazards on holidays such as the Fourth of July.

Six Scouts met in the station bay with Phil Zink of the volunteer department to learn how to use hand tools. The bay also has a sand table that is a model of wildland terrain.

Outside the station, Kevin and five other Scouts received a quick lesson from Walker firefighter Bill Morgan on building fire lines. The boys used shovels, rakes and pulaskis.

Holding a shovel, Scott Overmyer, 11, of Phoenix said that he wanted to learn why firefighters have difficult jobs, "carrying all the stuff and like having to take care of the fire."

Later on, Scott curled himself inside a fire shelter made from aluminum foil.

Contact the reporter at khedler@prescottaz.com