Enhancing your Department with a Junior Firefighter/Explorer Program
Will Catoe & Billy Dillon
Friday, June 14, 2024
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Junior Firefighters have been part of our Fire Service since the beginning. They have had many different titles over the years, but the one constant is that our young people play a vital role in keeping the Fire Service alive. Having a successful Junior/Cadet/Explorer program is very rewarding and can boost a department’s recruitment effort while developing the next generation of firefighters. But do not be fooled, a successful program doesn’t come without your hurdles and headaches.
In this class, you will hear some success stories from these programs. You will learn how to start your program and learn some ideas of how to improve your program if you already have one established. The positive impacts that a Junior Program can have on a department will be discussed. A quick overview of the SC Labor Laws, CATE Programs, and SCFA Policies will be discussed. Whether you are a career, combination, or volunteer department, and you are having recruitment issues, this is a program you would want to consider.
Will is originally from Camden South Carolina but now resides in Lugoff. Will married Jennifer Starling Catoe in 2005 and has two sons, Davis and Baker. Both of his sons play sports, and he is very involved with the local sports programs and coaches.
Will started in the fire service in 1995 when he joined the Lugoff Fire Department as an Explorer. When he turned 18, he became a volunteer and eventually became a part-time employee with Lugoff. During the time he was a volunteer and part-time employee, he worked full-time at the DANA Corporation. In 2002 Will started his full-time career as a firefighter with Lugoff as a firefighter. He became a certified fire marshal with Lugoff in 2004. He went to work with The University of South Carolina in 2006 as an assistant fire marshal.
Will left the University and went to work at the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office in 2010 as a deputy Fire Marshal/Investigator. Will came back to Lugoff Fire Department in 2014 as Lugoff’s first full-time Fire Marshal. In 2018 he became Assistant Chief of the department. He has served as the president of the SC Fire and Life Safety Educators Association and a Board member of the SCIAAI for the past 6 years.
Billy was born and raised in Florence County. He has an associate degree in Fire Science, a Bachelor’s in Fire Administration, and a graduate of the U.S Fire Administration’s Executive Fire Officer Program. He married his wife Jennifer in 1995 and they have two sons, Matthew and Luke.
Billy started his fire service career in 1993 when he joined the Hannah-Salem-Friendfeild Fire Department. He went to work with the City of Florence Fire Department in 1999 and transitioned to Florence County EMS in 2004 to obtain his Paramedic Certification. He has been serving as Fire Chief for Howe Springs Fire Rescue since 2013. Billy has spent many years of his career working with and instructing young firefighters in his area and currently assists with the Annual Explorer Competition held at the Fire Rescue Conference.