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Learning about volunteer firefighters sparks adventure

I never imagined that I would be behind the steering wheel of a firetruck, but I got the chance to not only ride in but drive a firetruck this summer. I also learned about the amazing work of the Thomaston Volunteer Fire Department.

Sixteen volunteers give up their time to train and respond to emergencies and fires. The fire station is connected to the Thomaston City Hall, which is headquarters for the police, water and other city departments.

Jeff Laduron, who serves as both the mayor and fire chief in Thomaston, said, “We are lucky to have this building with everything connected. It is nice to have everything in one place. We are also very well equipped for a town our size.”

Mayor Laduron stated that when he first became fire chief, the ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating was at a 10 and now it is at a 5. The ISO rating effects home insurance costs based on risks and is on a scale of 0-10 with lower numbers being the best. “As a town as small as we are, a 5 is a very good rating for us,” Laduron explained.

To teach me even more about the fire department, the mayor gave me a tour of the department and even offered to let me drive a fire truck. I was looking forward to learning more about the volunteer fire department and how it operates, but at first I thought he was joking about letting me drive a firetruck.

Mayor Laduron first showed me around the fire department station explaining how the different firetrucks and equipment is used. The Thomaston Volunteer Fire Department has four different trucks in their station.

The Brush Truck, a smaller white vehicle, responds to all calls because it can get to the scene quickly. Another truck, the mini-pumper, is equipped with foam and works best for vehicle fires.

The biggest red truck of all and the one I got to drive is the pumper truck. It mainly responds to fires in town and gets around a little slower because it is bigger.

To start, the fire chief drove the truck around to show me how it operates. We drove to the high school’s parking lot where I tried driving around in the open area. It was intimidating to be driving the firetruck at first, but it was mainly because I had never driven anything so big before.

It was a lot different than driving my Honda Accord. The truck drove very smoothly, but I was amazed at how wide the turns were. I feel like I did a pretty good job, but I would need more training before driving it on the actual roads.

After we returned to the station, we took out the tanker truck, which is a little smaller than the pumper. It is used for both in-town and out-of-town calls.

After Laduron pulled the tanker out of the station, he helped me pull down the hose and turn on the water. I held the hose and sprayed the water. It was a lot heavier than I thought it would be, but it was lots of fun.

I thought the hose was heavy, but I was in for a surprise when Mayor Laduron helped put one of the oxygen tanks on my back. After wearing the tank for just a few minutes, I gained even more respect for the firefighters who wear that heavy equipment to fight fires. I could not imagine being able to run or do anything with that thing on my back.