New volunteer firefighters are needed to respond to emergencies in North Haven. The entry level training class, Firefighter 1, is taught by North Haven Fire Department instructors two days a week for four months.
“We are actively recruiting volunteer firefighters for training,” said Deputy Fire Chief David Marcarelli. “The training is pretty extensive.”
There are 35 firefighters in each station and recruiting is done about every two years, said Marcarelli, as some firefighters go from volunteering to careers within fire services; others retire or leave due to family or job commitments.
Volunteers must be over 18 years old, pass the Firefighter 1 class, and then are assigned to one of North Haven’s three fire stations as probational firefighters under the company captain. Once they are state certified, they can be put in as firefighters. This certification, which includes written and practical exams, is overseen by the Connecticut Fire Academy, part of the Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control.
The tests are standards-based, following National Fire Protection Administration guidelines. While the standards are the same, curriculum varies by town and textbook.
The skill sheet used to grade the Firefighter 1 course is 100 pages long and tests such abilities as:
- donning in protective clothing
- knot tying
- emergency phone and radio procedures
- forcibly entering doors, windows, and walls
- ladder carrying, raising, and lowering
- hose deployment, use of nozzle, and replacing a burst section
- determining roof integrity
- extinguishing Class A, B, and C fires
“As part of Firefighter 1 testing, the state does testing for hazmat and weapons of mass destruction [skills],” said Jeff Morrissette, State Fire Administrator.
“We have a general statistic we put out each year showing the overall pass rate,” Morrissette said, adding that applicants must take the practical exam before written test.
Last year, 86 percent passed the written test for Firefighter 1, but this year only 78 percent passed.
“That’s something we’ll be looking into,” said Morrissette.
The same amount of applicants, 89 percent, passed the Firefighter 2 course, which tests for abilities such as handling flammable liquids and gases, vehicle extrication, and rescue team assistance.
NHFD also offers Firefighter 2 level training. The department also supplies gear, offers a tax abatement, and long term pension.
Between 2009 and 2010, the North Haven Fire Department answered calls for 114 fires and 3,076 medical alarms.