Cherokee Fire Explorers Post Win Big At 'Winterfest'

Fire Explorers Post #469 brought home six trophies at the 39th annual Winterfest Competition in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services’ Explorer Post #469 brought home six trophies in the 39th annual Winterfest Competition in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Over 3,200 people representing several states throughout the southeastern United States, attended the event held this past weekend.

Members of each explorer post at the event competed in drills designed to test their skills and knowledge in the fire and emergency services field.

Explorer Post #469 sent 16 of its own to compete against more than 60 teams.

The local explorers post hosted the Pittsburg Drill exercise again this year and dedicated the drill in memory of Donna Westbrook, wife of Cherokee County EMA Director Robby Westbrook, who lost her life in an automobile accident last year. 

The Westbrooks have been major supporters of the Cherokee County Fire Explorer Post. This was the fourth year that the local post has hosted this event.

During last Saturday’s event, the fire explorers garnered first and second place in The Pittsburgh Drill, which simulates rescuing a down firefighter through multiple obstacles to get him to safety.

The group also scored first and second place in The Z-Drag, which required participants to rig a rope rescue system to assist them in the removal of a victim from a hostile environment.

The youth also scored first place in the Save Your Skin Drill, which included a crew of disoriented firefighters required to locate their hose line and navigate their way out of a hostile environment with only seconds to spare.

Finally, the local fire explorers placed first in the Secret Knots Drill, which gave the participants a series of random fire department knots to tie in a matter of seconds. 

"I am very pleased with the effort that the individuals that make up our explorer post put into our profession," said Cherokee County Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Robinson. "The accomplishments of this past weekend were outstanding and demonstrates their dedication."

Cherokee County Fire Chief Tim Prather added he was "very proud" of the explorers.

“This was my seventh trip to Winterfest since becoming a chief officer," he added. "Each year seems to be better than the previous years. Last year, we brought home the most trophies ever. Going into this year, I didn’t know if we could ever exceed last year’s accomplishment. Well, we tied that number, but for the first time, we earned four first place spots. Again, the best ever. I’m amazed each year by this group. I am very proud of the accomplishment of these fine youngsters and a big thank you to the advisors, support staff and the families for their time and effort to make them the best."

Preparations for the competition started in the fall.

Advisors who attended the competition were: Sgt. Scott Deal, Firefighter Michael Sims, Retired Capt. Bill Hamby, Capt.Tom Pelletier, Capt. Mark Orr, Sgt. Micheal Poulson, Sgt. Mike Caglioni, Sgt. Brad Gravitt, Firefighter Jordon Seda, Firefighter Rebecca Strobl, Kathy Lawson and and Assistant Fire Chief Robinson.


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