Firefighters Hit The Road For A Cold, But Important Job

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Feb 032015

Orange Volunteer Firefighters clear a hydrant

Orange Volunteer Firefighters clear a hydrant

Tonight, after coming home from a full day’s work at their paying jobs, our Orange volunteer firefighters will be out in the freezing cold on Hydrant Detail.

They’ll be shoveling out the fire hydrants in YOUR neighborhoods that are covered in snow and ice.

The firefighters know all too well how long it takes to clear a hydrant, and how precious those extra minutes are when they have to get to a home for a fire emergency.

If YOU have a hydrant near your home, PLEASE shovel it out.

9:30 p.m. Firefighters Still On Scene Of Mulch Fire

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Apr 242014

IMG_2343There was a Fire Weather Watch in effect today, and boy, did the Orange Volunteer Fire Department find out just how spot on that warning was.

At 10:54 a.m. they were called to Edison Road for a mulch fire at the Cuzzocreo Property where there are mountains of wood chips, logs, brush and other flammable natural materials on site.

It seems that the Fire Department responds there at least once every few days, always the same problem.

A few hours later at 3:18 pm the firefighters were returning to the Cuzzocreo property for a mulch fire with heavy smoke that was pouring across I-95. State Police were on the thruway slowing traffic down so there wouldn’t be any accidents.

Fire Marshal Tim Smith said, “Heavy winds (part of the Fire Weather Watch) helped fuel the fire. The Connecticut State DEEP Wildland Crew arrived a few hours later and made their way through the woods to the hotspot where the fire had jumped into a forested area.”

One of these state firefighters was overheard telling his colleagues that he’d done a walk through and that a stream deep in the woods could help keep the fire from spreading too far (into the former Stew Leonard’s property).

Woodbridge, West Shore, Milford, Derby and Bethany all provided mutual aid.

Asst. Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas said firefighters were having a problem getting water to the site, so they called the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department for assistance. “They have a tanker truck program and brought three tankers down her to provide us with water,” Dumas said.

Luckily, there were three fire hydrants at the top of the hill near Aurora Products and after the water shuttles were done, firefighters were able to utilize the hydrants.

The Orange fire officers kept in touch with the water company, which boosted the water pressure when requested and when firefighters were leaving the scene the water pressure was brought down to normal.

NOTE: This fire was a major event, which took a lot of manpower and had some residents who visited the site to watch asking why the grinding operation isn’t shut down. That is a question for the Town Plan and Zoning Commission. The business has been sited for violations in the past, but the state DEEP said the company has done everything its been asked to do and they are satisfied that the business is totally in compliance.  After seeing the property, one must wonder if everything there is allowed by our very strict TPZC. The Commission hasn’t discussed it in a while. Perhaps it’s time for another visit.


Fighting Brush Fires Is A Year-Round Job

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Aug 232012

Mark Osinski prepares to take his crew out to the field during a brush fire drill at Turkey Hill School.

The Orange Volunteer Fire Department is on call 24/7, 365 days a year. Often while you are nestled all snug in your bed they are rushing off to help a stranger who’s trapped in a car after an accident on the parkway or responding to a report of an activated fire alarm.

The volunteer firefighters answer so many different types of calls that they must be prepared for anything at any given moment.

On Tuesday night, the bright lights from on top of a fire truck could be seen from neighborhoods in the Turkey Hill School area as about 30 Orange firefighters practiced their skills at fighting brush fires.

The drill was as real as it could get, short of lighting the playing field and woods on fire.

According to Chief Charlie Gagel, the men and women practiced two different techniques.

1. Using Indian Tanks — water filled backpack tanks with hoses and nozzles — that they used to saturate the grass outside of the wooded area.

2. Using 2″ and 3″ fire hoses hooked to the fire engine to  spray down an area with a high volume of water.

Bush Fire Season

Although during summer, with drought-like conditions (when people often have camp fires) the threat of brush fires is high, but “Brush fires occur in all four seasons,” Gagel said. “In the winter, when there is no snow on the ground and there is low humidity, you can get a brush fire. They are predominantly in the summer when it’s hot, there’s been no rain and the “fuel” is all dried up.”

“You never know when you’re going to have a brush fire and you want the firefighters to be prepared and familiar with the equipment,” Gagel said.

While observing the drill, we noticed that some of the younger firefighters were quick to pick up on the proper way to work the Indian tanks. There was a good mix of veteran and rookie firefighters at the drill with the more experienced firefighters passing on their knowledge to the eager to learn 20-somethings in the department.