Crashes aren’t always “mock” for young firefighters

Two of Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Company’s youngest members are Cesar Ceniceros and Tony Bevan, who shared their training with classmates at Avonworth’s pre-prom mock crash. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

When Avonworth High School staged its mock crash in the parking lot behind the school as a pre-prom reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving, lots of students played out scripts that dramatized some rather grim scenes, from the badly injured to the bloody fatalities.

Two seniors, though, played their roles without scripts, because in reality, they knew exactly what they had to do.

Joining the police, the medics and the evacuation helicopter at a "head-on collision," Cesar Ceniceros and Tony Bevan added to the authenticity of the event because their parts in the crash were not rehearsed. Instead, the two youngest members of the Ohio Township fire department demonstrated skills they've learned through training at the Allegheny County Fire Academy.

Cesar said that he joined the department about a month ago. "My dad has been a member for over a year. He told me that if I wanted to become involved, why not? I probably would have done it sooner, but I just turned 18."

Tony, tuning 18 in January, joined a little over three months ago. "My stepdad likes being a member. It's more than rescue and fire fighting. There's a social aspect of it, too. It's like belonging to a brotherhood."

"Everyone takes pride in training. There's never a dull moment in the fire department," Tony said.

Cesar explained that training is a lot harder than it looks. "The firemen use equipment that simulates being on knees in a dark smoky building. It's easy to become disoriented in a situation like that, so training is important."

Tony said that some O.T. fire fighters have over 400 hours of training.

At the mock crash, Tony and Cesar used their skills in applying the "jaws of life," a tool that resembles scissors in design. If passengers are trapped inside a car, the hydraulic jaws work to pry open and cut the vehicle so that people can be removed.

Tony said that actual firefighting is the job that they probably are the least called upon.

"We only have a few house fires a year. Most calls are for car crashes, carbon monoxide detectors going off, trees down. I was able to get some training on a car fire, though, when they let me put it out since it was a total loss, anyway."

Cesar plans to attend Penn State, Beaver, where he will study management information services. He is the son of Cesar and Maria Ceniceros of O.T. Tony, the son of Amy and Mike DeLucia of O.T., will attend West Virginia University, where he will major in biomedical engineering.

The young firefighters could use their skills in communities where they will attend college, but they are going to wait and see how much time class work requires. Each said that he definitely will be available locally while on breaks and during the summers.

The parents of both Tony and Cesar are proud of their sons' volunteer work.

"But mom, being mom," Cesar said, "she's scared sometimes when I go out."

Cesar Sr., working alongside his son at the mock crash, said of Cesar Jr., "He wanted to do this, and I think he's doing a good job."

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