Q. The Old Saybrook Fire Department is all volunteer? A. People are sometimes surprised to hear that we are indeed comprised of 100% volunteer members.
Q. What types of incidents does the fire department respond to? A. We respond to just about every type of calamity imaginable. Structure fires, car fires, brush and trash fires, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials incidents, marine rescue, boat fires, carbon monoxide incidents, train accidents, and alarm activations are just some of the calls we receive.
Q. How many calls does the department get? A. For the past several years we have averaged approximately 600 calls per year, which works out to 11 to 12 calls per week.
Q. Is the department looking for any more volunteers? A. Yes! We are actively seeking new people to join the ranks of our current members.
Q. Why should I do that...what's in it for me? A. Well, it's definitely not for everyone. But if you like adventure, camaraderie, the satisfaction of getting the job done, and the pure excitement of rolling down Main Street in a fire engine to help those in need, you just might be the person we're looking for. You'll get extensive, specialized training and become part of an outstanding organization of men and women who share a common bond-the volunteer spirit to help those who need it most. There's also a town sponsored tax abatement program, and town sponsored pension plan.
Q. But I'm really busy with the kids, work, etc...I can't possibly commit the time. A. It seems everyone is busier than ever nowadays, and the men and women of the Old Saybrook Fire Department are no exception. We all have jobs, most of us have families, and some of us are attending school. But we're all able to find a few hours each week to devote to the department.
Q. I really don't think I'd fit in, I'm not that type of person. A. What type is that? Our members come from all walks of life. We have men and women, high school and college students, young single people, husbands and wives, parents, (single parents too,) and even a few grandparents. We have professionals with graduate degrees, business owners, and "blue collar guys". The old stereotypes of a volunteer fire department just aren't accurate anymore - if they ever were.
Q. What are the requirements to be an Old Saybrook Firefighter? A. You must be at least 18 years of age, of good moral character, be a resident of Old Saybrook, and be physically capable of performing the duties of a firefighter. Our application process is described in more detail below.
Q. What if I'm not yet 18 years old? A. We have an outstanding Junior Firefighter program for those 15 to 17 years old. Call the fire department at 395-3149, and we'll get you in touch with our Junior Division advisor.
Q. Isn't being a firefighter dangerous? A. There's no sugarcoating it - being a firefighter can be dangerous. Your job is to advance towards an emergency situation which others are retreating from. There are natural, personal, and mechanical hazards, and you'll be exerting yourself performing heavy manual labor. Like we said, this isn't for everyone. With that in mind, however, we take training very seriously. You'll participate in an extensive probationary training program which, when completed, will make you well qualified to perform the duties of a firefighter.
Q. What does training involve? A. If you're accepted as a probationary member, you'll undergo about a year of training in the fundamental aspects of firefighting duties.
Topics you'll study include:
Introduction to the Fire Service
Protective Gear & SCBA
Ropes & Knots
Rescue & Extrication
Fire Hose & Fire Streams
Salvage & Overhaul
Fire Prevention & Public Education
Your probationary training will consist both of written and practical (hands-on) study. At the conclusion of your probationary training, you will be required to pass both a written and practical exam.
After your probationary period, you will be able to take more detailed courses in firefighting, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, rescue techniques, and specific firefighting specialties such as aerial operations, pump operations, and many others. There is virtually no limit to the training opportunities available to you.
Q. So how do I apply and become a probationary member? A. Get in touch with the fire department or see an officer from our training division. We'll get you an application to fill out. You must also sign a release for a background investigation. If, upon the review of your application and background check, you are determined to be eligible, you will then have a complete firefighter-specific physical exam, which includes a screening for illegal substances. Finally, you will attend an oral interview with a panel of training officers. From there, the interview panel will decide whether to bring you to the company for a vote. If you're accepted by the company, congratulations, you're a probationary member, or "probie".
Q. What is being a probie like? A. It's a time to learn the basics about firefighting and the department, and there's a lot to learn. You'll get your hands dirty, and you'll be doing some not-so-glamorous work like rolling hose. It's a time to pay your dues and show the members of the department what you're made of. But don't worry, there's nothing demeaning or humiliating about it, and you'll already be making a very real contribution to the department.
Q. Can probies respond to emergency calls? A. Absolutely! In fact, responding to calls is the best way to learn, and we want probies to make as many calls as they can. You'll be given a full set of gear and a pager upon your acceptance as a probationary member, and from there, you're encouraged to respond whenever the pager goes off!
Q. I think I'd like to be a firefighter, but I'm not sure. How can I find out more? A. We want to give you all the information you need to help you make your decision. Send an email to email@example.com, or stop in at the firehouse when you see people there. We'll be happy to answer your questions, arrange for you to watch a drill, and show you around the firehouse.
You can also click the "Members" button on the left and check out the list of our current members. Chances are there's a friend or neighbor of yours there. Give one of them a call and they'll be happy to speak to you about the department as well.