by Bea Peterson
When most people hear the fire siren go off in Hoosick Falls they are only slightly curious as to where the fire or accident is that caused the alarm. For 30 or so dedicated people the siren means leaving the dinner table or a warm bed or a special event and heading for the firehouse. The Hoosick Falls Fire Department is looking for another ten men and women to sacrifice time from family to be part of a volunteer organization that has been active in the Village for more than 165 years.
On Saturday, April 27, from 10 am to 2 pm the Hoosick Falls Fire Department will take part in the annual Recruit NY campaign, a coordinated effort to increase the number of volunteer firefighters across the State. Hoosick Falls Fire Chief Carlton Coon said they need people who can wear self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or who can drive the trucks or can operate the apparatus on the trucks. It’s no easy task. There is plenty of training involved. However, the dedicated members will tell you, the rewards of serving the community, of being part of a team that can make a difference, make it all worthwhile. Information regarding incentives offered to active volunteers, including a retirement plan and financial assistance available to qualifying members to aid in attending college, will also be available.
The volunteers who serve provide the community with immediate emergency coverage. Every taxpayer benefits from volunteer fire departments. Every resident benefits by knowing their neighbors are there to help them in an emergency. Ten people could make a difference. Stop at the Hoosick Falls Firehouse on Saturday. Bring the family. Enjoy refreshments. Learn what is involved in serving your community. Benefit from serving your community.
To some students at HFCS the community service element of the school year is just another assignment. To juniors Charles Hodge
and Mike Matatt, sophomore Colby Davendonis and senior Jonah Slagen it’s an adventure as well as an opportunity to help their community. Slagen was tied up with a lacrosse game Monday evening while, at the same time, Hodge, Davendonis and Matatt got a real taste of being a firefighter. They donned all the gear, including self contained breathing apparatus or Scott Packs to practice getting out of difficult situations.
Monday evening’s program was a refresher course for many of the firefighters from Hoosick Falls and North Hoosick and a starter for others. The practices were conducted by NYS Office of Fire Prevention instructors for Rensselaer County, Daniel MacIntyre, Paul Glasser and Jay Ham. Three different worse case scenarios were practiced while the firefighters were in full gear. In one case the firefighter’s face mask was covered with material to simulate a smoke filled room. The firefighter had “lost contact with the walls” in the room and had to crawl on the floor, find the fire hose and follow that hose line out of the room.
The second simulation required the firefighter to quickly remove the SCBA tank, keeping helmet and face mask in place and crawl through a long narrow wooden tunnel, then quickly put the SCBA tank back on.
The third simulation required the firefighters to crawl through the studs in a wall they had broken through, keeping all their gear in place.
The training represents worse case scenarios and, hopefully, no volunteer firefighter will ever find himself or herself in one of these situations. During this training they will become more comfortable with their gear and with their capabilities.
Recently David Jacobowitz, President of the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) said, “It is critically important to provide and maintain essential fire services in our communities. To that end, FASNY remains committed to helping local departments recruit and retain their volunteers – the men and women who are always there to answer the call regardless of the hour or day.”