To See New Englandly

By distractedhausfrau

Spring Training

My town is too small for a full-time fire department, so we have an "on-call" department. Men from around town -- small business owners, software engineers, contractors, and stay-at-home-dads -- make themselves available on an "on-call" basis to fight fires and/or serve as EMTs (emergency medical technicians). In other words, everyone has another full-time job...even the fire chief. It's the only department of its kind in the greater Boston area.

These guys drop what they're doing (or get out of bed if it's the middle of the night), hustle to the fire station, suit up, and get out to the scene in an average of 7-9 minutes from the time the call was placed. Added to that is the challenge of fighting fires in a town with no municipal water supply i.e. no fire hydrants.

When a call is received, an attack truck, carrying a minimal amount of water, is first at the scene. Next comes the pumper, which will find a nearby water source (an underground cistern or a pond) and start pumping water to the attack truck. If there's no water nearby, a water truck will shuttle it back and forth between a pond and the pumper. To connect all of these sources of water and get the water to the fire, the firefighters build a complex, above-ground fire-hydrant system with various hoses, valves and manifolds. As you can imagine, there is a lot for them to know, and they must act on that knowledge quickly. As one firefighter said, "You might think firefighting takes brute force, but it turns out to be a thinking man's sport."

Having observed (and photographed) them in training and on the scene of actual emergencies, I truly admire these men who give their time, effort, and brains and brawn to keep our community safe.

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