The Farmington Fire Department has disbanded its Explorers program due to lack of interest, said assistant fire chief James Schmitz. But it may not be gone forever.

The Explorer program gives young adults, ages 14-21 the opportunity to learn about firefighting alongside seasoned professionals. Students participate in fire department functions and learn about emergency services, local government and leadership skills.

Schmitz said the department had tried to recruit students through Facebook, a booth at the Farmington Community Expo and word of mouth, but were unsuccessful.

“We had only one person talk to us about it at the expo and he did not leave any contact information,” Schmitz said.

The firefighter that had been leading the group moved to Northfield, and those in his group went with him.

“Despite FFD members stepping forward to continue the post, we have been unable to recruit any new or former members into the post,” fire chief Jim Larsen said in a letter to the city council.

Schmitz said attendance is cyclical, partly because so much recruitment happens in-house. Firefighters’ kids in the program would invite their friends and the group would grow until those kids graduated out of the program. Then attendance would go down. In fact, the fire department disbanded the post about 10 years ago for that reason, and then brought it back about five years ago when interest revived, Schmitz said.

The Explorer program is mostly self-sufficient, with participants raising funds for uniforms and equipment.

The department donated the equipment its program had acquired to the Northfield Explorer post. Equipment included turn-out gear that is out of compliance for firefighters, but perfect for recruits to practice drills.

The department hired its first full-time fire chief nearly a year ago and has been focused on new training programs, equipment upgrades and a reshuffling of responsibilities.

Schmitz said the department would like to eventually reopen the post, but for now, he said, “if the numbers aren’t there, we can’t keep it open.”