Teen plans fire department facility as Eagle Scout project
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Mon., Feb. 21, 2011
Hendrick Bilek - a junior at RHAM High School - joined the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department just about one year ago, in March of 2010. By that time, the Boy Scout Troop 28 member had already been thinking about planning a potential Eagle Scout project to benefit the department for quite some time.
“I was working with people in the fire department before I joined,” said Bilek. “Having an opportunity to experience the trainings and see the specific needs, I was able to tailor [the project] to the needs of the department.” Especially helpful in formulating a plan were current Training Officer Dave Thurz and past Chief Paul Burton. With their assistance, Bilek was able to narrow down ideas for potential projects.
“A lot of firefighters have a lot of practice with working in the interior, working with hoses and stuff,” said Bilek. “I think if you ask firefighters whether they’ve had the opportunity to practice on the roof, a lot of them would say they’d appreciate the opportunity to work on that skill.”
Venting a roof can be an important part of successfully fighting a fire in certain situations, “especially at this time of year, when you have a lot of chimney fires,” said Bilek. But working on the roof of a burning structure can be extremely dangerous. The training facility the Scout is planning “will help the firefighters learn to better and more safely manage building fires,” said Bilek.
The planned facility will encompass two mock roofs with different pitches. “They’re pretty much the most common two pitches you’ll find around here,” said Bilek. The structure will be 25 feet at its highest point, about the height of an average two-story home. It will also include an observation platform for an instructor, and a mock wall “for practicing bailouts,” said Bilek. The roof portions will feature two cut-out sections, to allow firefighters to practice venting “on a safe platform,” Bilek added.
The facility will allow for potential expansion. “We could add a door or windows in the future, depending on the needs of the department,” said Bilek.
The project is planned for Burnt Hill Park, “out beyond the pond,” said Bilek. The Hebron Board of Selectmen has already begun the approval process, and is supportive of the project. Construction should begin in the spring, pending the research of some details regarding the land. “We plan to get the poles in as soon as it’s accessible,” said Bilek. The main support will be provided by telephone poles, donated by Connecticut Light and Power. The hope is that CL&P will even be able to install the poles for the Troop. “They said no promises, but they’re going to try to work it into their schedule,” said Bilek.
The fire department will assist with the installation of heavy support beams. The remainder of the work will be completed by members of Troop 28 and coordinated by Bilek, per the requirements of an Eagle Scout project. The goal is to complete the project within four or five days, and within a total budget of $1,700. Bilek hopes that money for supplies will be provided through the fire department. “I’m working with the chief on that right now,” he said.
“This is a really big project,” said Bilek. “It will be interesting to see how it unfolds. I wanted to work on a project that wasn’t going to be easy. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone. And I wanted to benefit the community. I think we should all give back to the community in any way possible.”
As a member of a troop that recently produced its 100th Eagle Scout (Parker Aubin was number 100 for Hebron Troop 28), Bilek had plenty of good role models. “Watching a lot of my friends get their Eagle Scout was a big motivator for me,” he said.
Since funding for the project is still up in the air, Bilek said he would certainly appreciate any offers of materials or funding for the facility. Contact him at 860-228-1127 or firstname.lastname@example.org.