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Dublin

In the line of fire

On a recent weekend in Dublin, Ledger-Transcript reporter Elodie Reed stepped out of her comfort zone and into a burning building as part of a training exercise that gave her a new view of firefighters and their skills

  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.
  • Ledger reporter Elodie Reed recently spent the morning with Dublin Fire Department as they did a volunteer training session.

“It’s not everyday someone lets you burn their house down.”

With those words from Fire Chief Tom Vanderbilt, my day began with the Dublin Fire Department and their Saturday morning volunteer training session at a burning house on 51 Parsons Road. As Vanderbilt had indicated to myself and the 10 or so volunteers, having the opportunity to train in a real house, with a real fire, was special.

“This is as close to the real world as you can get,” Lt. Bill Greenwood explained. Greenwood, who works with the Keene Fire Department and also owns and instructs for Fire and Emergency Training Consultation Services, or FETC, was there to oversee the day’s training. In addition to having a certified instructor, the scheduled burn required the Dublin Fire Department to take other measures, including stripping the house in question of all dangerous items and having the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services come to make sure nothing burning in the home would be toxic or would endanger the surrounding area.

Before we got to the house, though, Vanderbilt and Greenwood sat everyone down to come up with a plan: where the firetrucks would be, how each “evolution,” or practice round of putting out a fire, would work, who would respond in the case of a real emergency call during the training, and where the pond was located that the volunteers would be taking water from.

All the volunteers, ranging from 22 to 72 years of age and consisting of local men and women, seemed ready and excited for the day. As for me, I felt excited in theory. I was very nervous in reality.

The plan was to let me go into the burning building in full gear and allow me to see firsthand what firefighters do. While thrilling in one sense to see a house fire in a non-emergency situation, wearing the bulky, heavy clothes and using the somewhat claustrophobic oxygen mask (which sounds like Darth Vader each time you breath), and standing feet away from a very real fire were all factors that tested my comfort zone.

Fortunately, the Dublin firefighters are pros. They also happen to be fantastic people.

From the moment I clambered up into the bright red firetruck and until I took off my mask, helmet, and gear at the end of the morning, I felt like I was right in the action without being in the way. Every volunteer was friendly, professional, and most of all, helpful. It was with great interest and diminishing fear that I watched the volunteers connect the water hose to the nearby pond, plan out their firefighting groups, help each other (and me) put on the gear, and go into the house’s burning upstairs bedroom to put out the fire. After the first evolution, everyone emerged and took a breather, told some jokes and took some water.

At one point, Greenwood commented to me that fire was a “living, breathing thing.” It’s easy to forget that underneath all that gear and behind those large, powerful hoses, firefighters are living, breathing, pretty cool people, too.

Elodie can be reached by phone at 924-7172 ext. 228, or by email at ereed@ledgertranscript.com. Elodie is also on Twitter @elodie_reed.

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