You may have noticed a buzz of activity and Firefighters in protective gear performing drills at the Hose Company on the weekends. Candidates for Connecticut State Firefighter I Certification are busy raising ladders, opening hydrants and donning air packs, all in an effort to better protect their communities.
This is the first time Lakeville has hosted the course, which is a right of passage and necessity for Firefighters, especially those hoping to engage in “Interior Fire Fighting” or enter the toxic, IDLH (Immediate danger to life and health) environments.
Tom Bartrum, former Chief and current Captain of the Sharon Fire Department is heading the Course with the help other legendary State instructors such as Bob Mangione and Rich Winn of West Hartford, current Torrington Chief, John Field, and former Lakeville Hose Company and current Stratford member, Rick Vanicky.
“The wealth of knowledge and experience passed to us from these veteran instructors is invaluable and will hopefully help keep us safe as we respond to high-risk situations”, said Joe Mulligan, 52, and the senior member of the class. Joe is, of course, a fixture on the road, performing the duties of “Fire Police” in managing safety at emergency scenes and safeguarding Firefighters and EMS personnel. Joe, who is representative of the eclectic group of Lakeville participants, ranging in age from 22-52 from differing backgrounds, recently received the “Top Responder” award for a second consecutive year at the annual Lakeville Hose Company Dinner dance.
The course, which lasts for roughly four months, involves both rigorous physical training and academic study of subjects such as Fire Behavior, Hazardous Materials and Building Construction. On the weekends, future Firefighters are crawling through blind mazes, using SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), climbing roof peaks, and practicing Search and Rescue drills.