February 6, 2023 – Eagle Scout candidate Andrew Wheeler has two passions in life: scouting and fire services. He used the passion for one, fire services, to fuel his final project – leading a group of volunteers to make three (3) bunker gear dryers to donate to local fire departments – to earn the highest achievement attainable through the Boy Scouts of America.
“No, I didn’t make the dryers,” said Wheeler, a Life Scout with Troop 281 that is chartered with Trinity Presbyterian Church. Wheeler is also a senior at Flagler-Palm Coast High School enrolled in the Fire Leadership program there with plans to become a firefighter upon graduation. “I oversaw every aspect of the project, but I didn’t help make them.”
Those working towards Eagle are not permitted to “touch” their projects while under construction, explained Wheeler’s Eagle Scout mentor Pack 281 Cubmaster, Drew Hardesty, who is also a lieutenant with Flagler County Fire Rescue.
“He was a project manager, if you will,” Hardesty said. “Becoming an Eagle Scout is about leadership. When they do these projects, they lead their teams but are not involved in the actual building.”
Wheeler did have to fund raise the $4,500 it took to purchase the materials for the three bunker gear dryers.
“This was the most challenging part,” Wheeler said. “I got contributions from the Flagler County Fire Union (IAFF 4337), the Palm Coast Fire Union (IAFF 4807), and the Flagler Beach Volunteer Firemen’s Association.”
There were many friends and family who also contributed to making it a reality.
Wheeler’s project began in November 2021 when he made his initial project presentation to Flagler County Fire Rescue Chief Mike Tucker, Palm Coast Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill, and Flagler Beach Fire Chief Bobby Pace. All three chiefs gave their approval, which was necessary for the project to commence.
Pulling together workable plans, raising money, and assembling his team of volunteers took the bulk on the time.
“It just took three days in December for the volunteers to build them once we were ready,” Wheeler said.
Initially, one bunker gear dryer was to go to each of the county’s three fire departments: Flagler Beach, Palm Coast, and Flagler County Fire Rescue. Instead, two went to Flagler County Fire Rescue – Station 62 that is located in Bunnell and Station 41 in the Hammock – and Station 11 in Flagler Beach.
“Chief Berryhill was gracious and donated the one for Palm Coast to Flagler County,” Tucker said. “He said they have ample dryers at the Palm Coast stations.”
Now that the dryers are delivered – the last on February 3 – all that remains is for Wheeler to complete the Eagle Scout Application, do his Scoutmaster Conference, and finally sit before a Board of Review of area adults. He is unconcerned.
“This gave him valuable leadership experience in the troop and in the community. All of the fire chiefs were so supportive if the project,” said Scoutmaster Jason Wheeler, who is also his father. “I am extremely proud of all the Scouts who achieve Eagle. As his father, I am especially proud of Andrew. He has taken the two things that are his passion and has worked hard to succeed at both.”
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