No practice scenario can prepare a firefighter to face the intense heat and stress of a real fire. With that in mind, Orange firefighters recently participated in a day of “live-burn” exercises at the Fairfield Regional Fire School.
The firefighters, all volunteers, participated in several scenarios involving real flames, but in a controlled environment with instructors observing and providing guidance. Practice situations involved containing fire, putting fires out under different circumstances, and rescuing people from fire.
“This training focuses on enhancing the skills of the volunteer men and women who provide life safety and property conservation for residents and visitors of Orange,” said Lt. Dan Abrams, who oversees training for the department. “By practicing and reviewing these skills under harsh, live-fire conditions, we sharpen our competencies and stand ready for the real thing.”
Orange firefighters train weekly, but rarely have the opportunity to practice their skills while facing the stress, heat and other challenges created by confronting real fire. Working in heavy coats, pants, boots, helmets and gloves, collectively referred to as turnout gear, firefighters worked with different tools, practiced stretching and using hoses and ladders – all in conditions as close to the real thing as possible. Firefighters also drilled on the use of their aerial ladder trucks.
Recently, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department established a junior firefighter program for 16- to 18-year-olds. For some of them, this was the first opportunity to see what firefighting was really like.
“Our junior firefighters’ safety is our primary concern,” said Abrams. “While the tasks they do are essential and free up others who can engage in direct firefighting, they’re not on hose lines or doing other tasks firefighters who are directly involved with the fire do. Under these controlled circumstances, we were able to give some of our juniors a chance to taste that work. It also showed them the importance of the work they are asked to do at a fire.”
More information about the junior firefighter program is available at www.orangevfd.org/juniors/.
Abrams said firefighters spent extra time practicing procedures used at large buildings such as hotels and warehouses. The Orange Volunteer Fire Department has seen an increased number of calls to these types of buildings.
“As Orange grows, we have to be ready to protect our newest residents and visitors, whether in new homes or in new businesses,” said Abrams. “This was the perfect opportunity to practice hooking up to standpipes, stretching lines through large open spaces and evacuating guests or employees.”
“Being a firefighter is a dangerous and stressful job,” said Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas. “Training like our annual live-fire exercise helps us all be better prepared to face a fire, whether it’s a small room-and-contents job or a major blaze in a warehouse. We train and study constantly to be ready physically, mentally and intellectually. This annual exercise is a major contributor to our preparedness.”
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection to residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services.
Operating strictly with revenues from fundraisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the remaining few all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on-call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-4703, click on https://www.orangevfd.org/ or find us on Facebook.