Firefighting a family affair for 16-year-old in Sable River

Greg Bennett
Published on February 4, 2014

Some teens may get into mischief and some might spend too much time in front of their computer but for five Sable River teens, they have decided to do much more with their time for their community.

Jessica Latham, a 16-year old from Sable River, is one of a group who has dedicated her time and joined the Sable River Volunteer Fire Department.

She became a member when she was only 14 along with three of her friends and her older brother.

“It has always interested me,” said Latham.  “When everyone around me was joining, I did too.”

Since then, she has become a junior member, training hard each month to do her part for emergency calls including fires, motor vehicle accidents and even medical calls.

She has done her training as well for the Medical First Responders and can assist MFR’s on a call.

She has both her CPR and first aid and will usually stand back to anticipate and help the medical first responders at a call.

Latham takes her role seriously and has taken a traffic-managing course to help out at accident scenes to protect emergency workers from injuries while they work.

She has trained with a breathing apparatus, crawling through mock smoke on her hands and knees for 20-minutes and has hopped out of bed in the middle of the night to respond to a chimney fire.

“When I am 18 I will be able to train with the mobile burn unit,” she said.

This is an exciting prospect to the Lockeport Regional High School teen.

The right of passage when clean sparkling yellow bunker gear gets its first dusting of black as they train to fight real flames.

Not only do many of her friends volunteer for the department, her entire family is now working alongside her.

Her father is deputy chief, her brother joined the year before her and her mother joined in May of last year.

“Sometimes when we get a call we can be at different places and all meet up at the hall,” said Latham. 

She said while it hasn’t happened yet, she could potentially get a call in class as well.

“I would have to jump up and leave,” she said.

She likes the challenges of being a firefighter and medical first responder for her community. 

“People thought I couldn’t do it,” said Latham.  “But they don’t know what I’m capable of.  They think I can’t do it but I can.”