Thompson Community Fire Department celebrates 75th anniversary

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
North Grosvenordale - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
Captain Paul Konieczny from the Dudley, MA Fire Department helps a boy climb dow
Captain Paul Konieczny from the Dudley, Mass., Fire Department helps a boy climb down a ladder during a demonstration at Riverside Park. Photos by D. Coffey.

Fourteen area fire departments responded to Riverside Park in North Grosvenordale at noon on Aug. 17. They did so with much fanfare, as the park was the end point of a parade that celebrated the Thompson Community Fire Department's 75th anniversary. Volunteers from Thompson's five fire departments, with their colleagues from Putnam, Pomfret, Attawaugan, East Brooklyn, Southbridge, Webster, Dudley and Providence, demonstrated their mettle in several events. 

A Quinebaug crew used extraction tools on a car. Another crew demonstrated a “pump and roll” technique used to fight large brush fires. Volunteers took turns turning the crank of the town's first fire apparatus, an 1827 hand pumper capable of delivering 50 gallons of water. The pumper, which had to be pulled by firefighters, came with leather buckets so a brigade could fill the tank continuously.

Seven firefighters in formation closed in on a propane tank fire, adjusting the spray of water as they approached. Trooper First Class Patrick Dragon put his fire dog Brocade through some drills. Sgt. Troy Anderson let people ride the “Convincer,” a crash simulator. And Putnam EMS gave a CPR exhibit.

“Some things we do the public never sees,” said Thompson Hill Deputy Chief Joseph Langer.

Pomfret fire and rescue volunteer Michael Dumouchel brought his family to the event. “This kind of event is beneficial to everyone,” he said. He and his wife have taught their 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter about “stop, drop and roll,” a technique to put out fire on their clothing. His son is old enough to know how to dial 911. On Saturday the boy got a chance to climb down a safety ladder to escape a “smokey” room.

Captains Paul and David Konieczny from Dudley brought a Surrey Fire Safety House to teach kids and parents some fire safety basics. The 33-foot trailer is fashioned into a “home” with living room, kitchen and stairs to an upstairs bedroom. It has a manual pull station connected to a horn strobe. Using a smoke machine and water-based fog fluid, a controller can release vanilla-scented fog into one or all of the rooms. Parents can watch what their children are experiencing on a wide screen on the outside of the trailer.

“It teaches kids the importance of properly working smoke alarms,” David Konieczny said. It also gives them a chance to experience how real smoke acts by rising to the ceilings. The firefighters gave the kids a brief lesson in basic fire safety, then let the fog into the room. The children were ushered out a door and helped down a ladder to safety. “It's a great teaching tool,” Konieczny said. “The kids don't even know they're learning.”

That's the point with fire safety. Practice and familiarity cultivate a readiness in the event of a real emergency. “A family should plan and practice,” Konieczny said. And by seeing the ambulances and fire apparatus up close, it helps lessen the “fright factor” for children.
The crash simulator, called “The Convincer,” had the opposite effect: it's meant to give people an experience they don't want to repeat. And it's meant to reinforce seat belt use. Targeted for those aged 15 to 45, it gives individuals a chance to feel what it's like to be involved in a 5 mph crash. A chair slides down an incline and stops against a rubber bumper. “It's eye-opening,” Anderson said.


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