YARMOUTH — With an insider’s eye on the long hours and dedication required to be an emergency fire and rescue responder, there was no question in 17-year-old Kyle Bennett’s mind when he decided what his Eagle Scout Project would be.
A year and a half of planning and building went into the memorial Bennett built at the Fire and Rescue Station. It’s dedicated to Yarmouth’s firefighters and emergency medical service providers, including his father, Will, who has been volunteering with the department for five years.
“I just saw how much (volunteering) meant to my dad … I watch him respond to calls at all hours of the night,” Bennett said. “A lot of times, people take (Fire Rescue Services) for granted.”
According to Boy Scouts of America, to earn the Eagle Scout rank – the highest in scouting – a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earn the Eagle Scout badge.
Completing a project to benefit either a nonprofit or government organization was the last box Bennett needed to check off to become part of that exclusive group.
Fire Chief Michael Robitaille joined the Bennetts for the unveiling of the memorial at the station’s open house Oct. 11 during Fire Prevention Week.
“As an organization, we’re really honored that (Bennett) chose us to be the recipient for his project,” Robitaille said. “(His) vision will be a lasting memorial that will forever be seen by thousands of people who drive by here daily. … More importantly it will be an area that members of Yarmouth Fire-Rescue can take peace in.”
“(The memorial) makes me very proud as a dad and a member of the department,” Will Bennett added.
The 15- by 20-foot brick memorial includes a cement podium with the dedication written on top, a bench and two flagpoles – one waving the Fire-Rescue crest and the other an EMS crest.
“We’re honoring the sacrifices made every day … our goal is to never add a name to this memorial,” Robitaille said, noting that the department has never lost a volunteer or staffer in the line of duty.
“Our department has been blessed,” he added.
Robitaille commended the Public Works Department and Dugas Construction for their help landscaping the department’s lawn so the memorial could be built.
Bennett said he had a lot of help with the project from the department, as well as a couple other Boy Scouts.
“It only took about two weekends (to construct the memorial) … because I had so much help,” he said.
The Fire Rescue Association covered the approximate $4,000 needed for Bennett’s project, but he is in the process of taking donations to compensate the association and so far has raised about half.
“As we’re collecting donations, we’re going to add names of donors to an additional plaque at the face of the podium,” Bennett said.
Robitaille said that although Bennett’s portion of the memorial is complete, he hopes to add more to the lawn in the future – perhaps flowers and flagpoles commemorating the five branches of the military.
As for Bennett’s future, he hopes to be certified as an Eagle Scout by the end of the month, once his project is reviewed.
“It’s a lot of pride for me … a lot of work has gone into it,” he said. “It’s joining a brotherhood of people who have really gone the extra mile.”
Bennett said he would like to attend the University of Vermont for a degree in engineering, with an eye toward eventually taking over his family’s Freeport-based business, Bennett Engineering, where his father is the president.
But he also plans to follow in his father’s footsteps in another way.
“Whatever town I end up in, I’m definitely going to be a volunteer firefighter,” Bennett said. “It’s amazing what these (firefighters and emergency responders) do.”
Yarmouth Fire Rescue Chief Michael Robitaille, left, Kyle Bennett and Will Bennett a plaque dedicated to the town’s responders, part of a larger memorial Kyle Bennett built for the department for his Eagle Scout project.