By Carley Stickney (’20)
Join WAVE Magazine for an exciting new series of interviews at Jacksonville University, where students are the heroes.
Jarrett Cacopardo, a freshman at Jacksonville University, has been volunteering since he was 13-years old. In his Connecticut hometown of North Branford, he mastered a range of skills from search-and-rescue to basic fire suppression as a volunteer Cadet in North Branford Fire Department Company One. Today, he is one of the youngest active firefighters in the Company, having achieved the rank of Cadet Lieutenant.
Jarrett also acted as the representative voice of his fellow cadets. “There are many responsibilities that come with being a volunteer firefighter. You must obtain and maintain your basic firefighter certifications, and then you have the option to get specialty certifications.”
His specialty certifications include Wildland Firefighter and Emergency Medical Responder, which allows him to respond to medical calls and provide basic life support to patients. Jarrett is also required to complete annual training drills on vehicle extrication, rope rescue, confined space, and annual live fire training.
Jarrett describes the most unforgettable moment for him as his live fire training. He was tasked with searching for a down firefighter in a three-story burning building. Once his team recovered the firefighter, he was placed on the attack team where he had to enter the 1390 degree building with the water nozzle to extinguish the fire. “I could feel the heat going through my gear and my knees starting to burn as we crawled through the fire room,” Jarrett said. “It’s crazy to think about being in a 1390 degree room and coming out okay.”
Jarrett said, “One of the most important lessons I’ve learned through this experience is, to be honest. If you don’t know how to do something, just ask. It’s humbling in a way.”
When he returns home from school, he plans on rejoining Company One and responding to calls. “Volunteering has helped me communicate better with people that I’m not normally comfortable with,” Jarrett said. “That will help me later in life too. I hope to one day become an airline pilot and meet tons of new people every day.”