Junior firefighter’s first call was to 7 alarm blaze in Sea Isle City

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photo by Judith Swankoski / 
Logan Schettig is a junior firefighter with the Seaville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company. His first call was the 7 alarm fire in Sea Isle City that destroyed three beachfront condominiums.
  photo by Judith Swankoski / Logan Schettig, 17, of Seaville, is a junior firefighter with the Seaville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company. His first call was the 7 alarm fire in Sea Isle City that destroyed three beachfront condominiums.  SEAVILLE – When a fire broke out on the 7800 block of Pleasure Avenue in Sea Isle City, fire companies from across Cape May County raced to the island to assist. In the sea of black helmets there, one orange helmet stood out – Seaville’s junior firefighter Logan Schettig on his way to his first call.

“I could see smoke as soon as we were going over the bridge,” Schettig said. He said he wondered how close he would get, how hot it would get and, especially, how much he would be able to help. He said the answers were “Very, very and a lot.”

At a fire, an orange helmet signifies that the wearer is a junior firefighter and only qualified to carry out certain duties. For Schettig, after months of classroom instruction, training and drills, performing those duties well was his priority.

“There’s a lot more science to firefighting than people think,” he said. “You learn about the flow path and about how which way the wind is blowing affects that. You also spend a lot of time taking things apart and putting them back together. Learning hands-on. The mechanical know-how.”

Schettig, 17, of Seaville, found himself rolling out hoses and helping to connect them so the fire trucks could maintain a good water flow. More than a quarter of a million gallons of water were used to bring the fire under control, he said.

Three buildings with five residential units, two duplexes and a single family home, were destroyed on the 7800 block of Pleasure Ave. near the beach. Smoke from the blaze could be seen rising high into the sky around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 18. Strong winds off the ocean helped fan the flames, quickly spreading the fire to two neighboring buildings.

Fourteen fire departments from South Jersey responded to the fire or provided coverage through a mutual aid agreement with the Sea Isle City Fire Department. Three rescue squads also responded, according to officials.

A cause of the fire has yet to be released.

The Seaville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It has seen a recent resurgence in its junior firefighter program, Chief Rich Stevens said.

“We’re glad to have Logan. He participates well,” Stevens said. He said the fire company is always looking for new recruits. “There are opportunities here to teach life lessons.”

The junior firefighter program gives young people the chance to learn about their local fire and emergency services. The minimum age for a junior firefighter is 16. If a family member is currently serving in Seaville, training may begin as a cadet at 14. Both boys and girls are encouraged to participate.

Schettig said volunteering is important to him. He became aware of the opportunity at the fire department through other junior firefighters, he said.

He enjoys the family-like atmosphere, Schettig said. He said he encourages his friends and peers to get involved in outside activities.

“I’ve volunteered with my parents for some things, but this is the first thing I’ve done on my own, by choice,” he said. “We are all there because we want to be, and these people become your friends and you become part of your community.”

Schettig is a junior in Ocean City High School, where he plays lacrosse. He lives with his family in Seaville. He said he has maintained a 4.0 GPA (grade point average) through high school and is planning for college and the military.

Logan’s mother, Kim Schettig, said her son doesn’t have a lot of free time. But she is alright with that.

“I feel it is important to keep kids busy,” she said. “The drug problem in this area of South Jersey is rampant and adults think that will never happen to their child, but I can tell you it happens. I'm so happy Logan has found activities and friends that keep him away from that type of thing.”

Schettig will soon take a Firefighter 1 course. He will need to receive 180 hours of classroom and field training to become a certified firefighter. He is more than ready to trade in his orange helmet for a black one.

“I want to help people,” he said. “You have to be there when people need you.”

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