By Joe Angelino
The vast majority of fire departments in New York and across the country are volunteer organizations. Being a volunteer firefighter is tough, demanding and a rewarding endeavor for anyone who wants to give back to their community. In the Norwich area we are fortunate to have a combination fire department staffed by paid career firefighters backed up by volunteer fire companies. This allows for the best fire service that paid and volunteers can offer; fast attack and knock down by the career members and the peace of mind that more volunteer help is on the way, at little cost.
Brave women and men train hard to overcome the natural fear of running into a burning building while others are running away. It is not uncommon to have paid and volunteer firefighters, side-by-side entering a smoke-filled building or house. Even with protective gear, masks and oxygen supplies the smoke and hot gasses are choking and sickening. Because of the proliferation of insulation materials, plastic products and other chemicals, even a small fire gives off deadly carcinogens. Both paid and volunteer firefighters face the same dangers because fire doesn’t care whose lungs get burned or poisoned with cancer.