THS senior plans firefighting career, but already serves his communities
In 10 days Telstar High School senior Cody Smith will celebrate his 18th birthday by becoming a full-fledged member of the Rumford and Andover fire departments.
It’s another step toward his goal of becoming a career firefighter in a large city – and another example of how he’s dedicating his life to helping others.
When Cody was in elementary school, he and a friend decided they wanted to be policemen. “We talked about never wanting to be firefighters,” Cody remembers.
Things changed for Cody when his mom, Penny, married Ernie Peare, a member of the Rumford Fire Department.
Cody, who splits his time living in both Rumford and Andover, started hanging out at the Rumford station with Ernie. He decided maybe firefighting deserved a second look.
Today, Cody is junior firefighters with the Andover department, and Cody volunteers in the same capacity in Rumford. He’s been doing it since he was 15.
Because he’s not yet 18, Cody’s work is limited to a support role. He can help set up hoses at a fire scene, along with such tasks as providing water and food for firefighters. He also helps with cleanup.
Cody estimates he’s been to about a dozen significant fires since he became a junior firefighter.
In addition to serving the community, his volunteer work with the departments ties in with his studies for the past two years in fire science at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico.
“I have all the certifications I need to be on call for Andover and Rumford,” he said. All he needs now is to turn 18.
After he graduates from Telstar, “I plan to go to Southern Maine Community College next year and study fire science,” Cody said.
But he won’t stop there. “I’m going to do two years as a paramedic,” he said. “Then I want to move to a big city, like Boston.”
Helping his elders
But firefighting isn’t the only way Cody contributes to the community. For the past two years he has volunteered, and now also works, at the Victorian Villa Rehabilitation and Living Center in Canton.
He started visiting the center with his mother, who is an LPN there.
“I just started hanging out there more and more with the residents,” he said. Eventually, the staff suggested he become a formal volunteer. “They had me start calling the Bingo games because I have a loud voice,” he said.
He then helped out with more activities for residents. “There’s quite a few of them I’ve gotten close to,” he said.
This year, he took a job at the Villa washing dishes, sweeping floors, bussing tables and more, averaging 15 to 20 hours a week.
But he makes sure he still gets his visiting time in. “Before I start I stop in and say ‘hi’ to the residents,” he said.
For his commitment to the community, Cody was recently recognized by WCSH Channel 6 in Portland with their “Teens Who Care” award. He was nominated by his boss at the Victorian Villa.
What are Cody’s reasons for giving his time to Andover, Rumford and the Villa?
“I like working at the Villa because elderly people are amazing, and some of them don’t have family to come visit every day, so it helps that they have a nice person to talk to,” he said. “I like firefighting because it is so much fun, and I get the chance to do something good with my life.”