Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. the volunteer firefighters of Sharon Hill Fire Company meet at the station for drill night to prepare for any type of emergency.
“Training is always different each week and there is always an active component,” said Deputy Chief John Croce. “We use real-world scenarios and use actual structures.”
At a typical training night, Sharon Hill usually run drills with two trucks and two crews, and keep it as realistic as possible.
“We might pull up to an apartment complex and the volunteers put their air packs on, and do everything they would do for a real fire except going into the structure,” said Croce.
After getting off the truck, the volunteers practice pulling the hoses off in a certain way and spacing themselves out with other volunteers. If this isn’t done properly, the hoses will become tangled and precious time is wasted during an emergency.
Sharon Hill volunteers occasionally train at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center that features a 5-story drill tower, a vehicle extrication area, a confined space area to practice interior problems or removal scenarios, and much more.
Even if it’s raining, Sharon Hill focuses on action rather than classroom instruction. They have a fire hydrant on wheels that they can practice on inside the station, or they can run search-and-rescue drills in the station’s upstairs hallways.
Cadets, juniors and firefighters all train together to create teamwork and a sense of camaraderie. The cadet program is for teens ages 14 and 15 while the junior firefighting program is for teens 16 and 17. Although they cannot do everything an active firefighter age 18 or older can do, such as enter burning buildings or climb ladders, cadets and juniors still provide vital assistance to the firefighters. They can hook hoses up to the hydrant, help the driver, and get equipment off the truck for firefighters.
“Volunteers learn the truck equipment quickly, so they can start going on calls and helping out,” said Croce.
New volunteer firefighters take classes to earn their Firefighter I certification before they can enter buildings as well. Many Sharon Hill Fire Company volunteers continue to take classes at the local level and go on to become certified at the state level too.
Sharon Hill Fire Company provides training and gear to all volunteers and is seeking more cadets, juniors and firefighters to join the team. Learn more or sign up at FightSharonHillFires.org.