The last time the Great Neck Alert Junior Firefighters held a monthly meeting or drills in person was in February 2020. During these last 18 months, the Juniors didn’t just sit back and do nothing. Instead, they managed to hold meetings and drills online via Zoom, with the majority of their members (27 in total) in attendance.
They met twice a month, never missing a monthly meeting or drill. They even held nominations and elections online in December 2020. Some of the drills were given by the NCFSA (Nassau County Fire Service Academy) in conjunction with the Nassau County Junior Firefighter Association. In January 2021, they all received their annual First Aid/CPR/AED and choking certifications over Zoom.
According to Juniors Advisor, Alert Ex-Chief George Motchkavitz, “When COVID hit, we had to figure out a way to keep going and to continue providing training for the Juniors. These kids never missed a drill or training in all those months. They are an extraordinary group of young men and women who didn’t allow COVID to get in their way.”
For the drills, they watched videos on many different topics including hose line operation, search and rescue, and vehicle extrication.
During the pandemic, a few of the officers met for a special occasion. It was Memorial Day of this year and the Great Neck Memorial Day Parade had been canceled. The Junior officers decided to meet at All Saints Church cemetery in full uniform, donning masks and maintaining social distancing, to honor Jonathan Ielpi, a former Alert Junior Firefighter and FDNY Firefighter who perished in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Great Neck Alert Chief James Neubert, along with First Lieutenant Roger Beltran and Second Lieutenant Tyler Plakstis, formulated a plan for the Juniors to begin meeting safely in person, ensuring that COVID protocols would be followed.
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, on July 26, the Juniors were allowed to meet in person for their monthly meeting and training. Their second meeting was held on August 16 at the Nassau County Firefighter’s Museum and after the meeting, the Juniors had a tour of the museum given by a trained educator. On August 23, they held their first drill in person. The Juniors performed search and rescue drills and hose line and handling operation drills. The Juniors are absolutely thrilled be back meeting and training together in person. They are looking forward to an eventful year of meeting, training and participating in community events.
The Great Neck Alert Juniors program was formed in 1982. The group is comprised of 12-17 year-old young adults and meet twice a month for meetings and training sessions. In 2019, the Juniors were named Youth Group of the Year by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY). This prestigious award is given to youth fire organizations that display dedication to fire safety and community service.