Quietly tucked between the lines of a post on the King’s Point Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page is this:
“It is not always easy to be a volunteer firefighter.”
Many of us don’t realize that. We need to acknowledge the committment it takes to take a place on a volunteer fire department team. Firefighters give up evenings. At times they give up whole weekends. They may have to drop what they are doing in order to rush out to a call, at any time of day or night.
Our firefighters give up free time to protect us.
And it takes knowledge to fight a blaze effectively, and safely. Firefighters can’t put out the flames or save others if they themselves are in danger. Safety is everything. A fire is not something to be taken lightly.
How does fire behave? How do you keep the fire from spreading to another building? When and how can you enter a burning building? How do you get back out when you can’t see anything through a wall of black toxic smoke? What if a hole has opened in the floor but you can’t see it’s there? Or tangly wires and tiles fall from the ceiling?
How do you volunteer to face fire, and get back home safely after a call?
The answer is training.
And lots of it.
Many of us don’t know that there are levels to firefighter training. A firefighter is not permitted to try to do what he or she hasn’t been trained to do. If a firefighter hasn’t had the most basic training, they are not permitted to even go to a fire scene. If they have not been trained in offensive firefighting techniques and safety, they must stay outside a burning building and do what they can from there.
In an interview for Green Bay Feed, veteran Springdale firefighter Everett Pitts explained the importance of training and the different levels of training available to firefighters. He explained new firefighters first do an orientation, then later a ‘defensive firefighting’ course.
‘Defensive firefighting’ is a two day training program that teaches the basic firefighter skills necessary to participate at a fire scene. Firefighters with this level of training do not enter a burning building for an interior attack on the fire.
“…in order to go to a fire, and take part, you have to have what we call a 2-day basic defensive course… It talks about fire behaviour, how fire acts, how it spreads from one building to another and the reason why you do certain attacks because it is to prevent the fire from spreading. It also covers how to ventilate a building so it won’t explode…we talk about fire streams, fire hoses, how to connect them up…”
To be permitted to enter a burning building and attack the fire from within or rescue trapped persons, appropriate training is required. As Everett Pitts explained:
“Now in order to go inside of a burning building, there’s another course that we offer and that’s a 2-day SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). You just can’t put it on and go on in. So, we do a lot of in-house training but in order to get a certificate for it from the Government FES [Fire and Emergency Services] …we set up the 2-day SCBA course and we explain how the SCBA works and we put you through a smoke-filled building.”
“With firefighting, in order for you to do something you must be trained. If you are going to use a pump, you should have a pump operation course. If you are going to go inside and do a search or fight a fire from the inside, then you must have the SCBA.”
Some fire departments are strictly ‘defensive’ and others are able to offer more advanced services to their communities. A fire services presentation to Professional Municipal Administrators stated Town “Councils should decide what level of fire service the community desires and can afford. Training and equipment should reflect that strategy.”
A volunteer fire department is officially an arm of a Town Council or Local Service District. But it is the dedication of the volunteers that sees fire departments through.
The big question was thrown at Everett Pitts, who is a long-term firefighter: “Why do you volunteer? What do you get out of it?”
He tapped his chest, smiled and said, “Heart. It comes from the heart. You want to do it.”
Without a doubt, all local volunteer fire departments will appreciate support…and new recruits. Specifically, the Springdale Volunteer Fire Department is looking for new members. They will be hosting two recruitment nights at the fire hall on Bayview Road: May 16 and May 18, 2017, from 6pm. These evenings are ‘open house’ and the volunteer firefighters will show off their training through equipment demonstrations, drills, and information sessions. Anyone who feels firefighting might be in their heart, and who want to someday learn how to go out windows face first, might want to check it out.
See some Springdale training videos on Facebook.
Green Bay Feed salutes all the volunteers in this area.
Without you, our communities would have so much less.
King’s Point Volunteer Fire Department Facebook Page
Pilley’s Island Volunteer Fire Department Facebook Page
Springdale Volunteer Fire Department Facebook Page
South Brook Volunteer Fire Department Facebook Page
[Top Photo: Firefighter Training in King’s Point, 2017. All Photos Used with Permission. Thank you.]