Always ready

LEWISTOWN – Sometimes in a borough with three fire companies it is hard to stand out. However, Brooklyn Hose Company is unique and also holds qualities that help the three become one whole borough department.

Brooklyn Captain Bill Morrison and member John Wagner both said all of the members work together to keep both the equipment and station in good working condition.

“We are here to serve the community in any way possible,” Wagner said.

The company has four distinct pieces of equipment including the special unit, boat, and two engines. Wagner said the Special Unit 13-1, which is a pick-up truck, is equipped with a first aid kit and an automated external defibrillator.

“This rig can help at an accident scene before an ambulance arrives, or to alleviate the pressure on the ambulance at a busy scene,” Wagner said. “We try to check the items in the first aid kit about once a week. This way we know it is stocked and ready to use.”

Wagner said the unit is used for public service calls, which means it can be used for a variety of needs..

“We have done calls to help with everything from downed wires to helping an elderly person to get a cat out of a tree,” he said.

The boat used for water rescue and body recovery, is also towed by the truck. The boat is equipped with life jackets, body boards, and nets of varying sizes. Other items in the boat also help to make rescue and recovery easier.

Brooklyn also runs two engine/tankers. The engines travel to the scene of a fire and are equipped with tanks to hold both water and foam. Being equipped with a tank to hold water is how these engines differ from trucks equipped with a ladder. Both of the engines at the Brooklyn station are E-One’s.

“Engine 13-1 is a 1993 and engine 13-2 is 2001,” Wagner said. “13-2 has a smaller tank, and 13-1 is typically used for transfers down to Juniata County.”

Engine 13-1 will be replaced with a new E-One engine later in 2014. The two engines are equipped with everything that is needed to fight a fire and to assist at an accident. The tools are housed in compartments on the sides of the vehicle and hoses are kept folded on top.

“One of the most common length of hose used on the engine is 150 feet,” Wagner said. “We can connect with a large hose to the fire hydrant and fill the tank. After the tank is filled we can connect other hoses to tank valves and then use the hoses for the fire.”

Those hoses can then be connected to a hose on a ladder truck to fight a fire from the roof. Even though the tank in Engine 31-2 is smaller, the engine is part of the county rapid intervention team. This is a three-company team including East Derry and West Granville fire departments.

“These teams rescue the rescuers or help to rescue those trapped in the structure,” he said. “We have brand new RIT packs that make the rescues easier.”

These new packs have both new air packs and boards on which to place those who have fallen. The new air packs, now common to all borough fire departments, come with a buddy-breathing system that allows two people to breath from the same oxygen tank.

“If I run out of air, I can connect to the tank of another person. The oxygen amount will then become the same in each tank,” Wagner explained. “It is the same idea if I have a victim trapped in the fire. I can put a mask on them and they can breathe from my tank.”

Wagner said everything Brooklyn does goes back to the idea of safety, both for the residents of the borough and for the firefighters themselves. Another interesting safety tool that is unique to Engine 13-2 is rope lighting. Wagner said this light system can be put just about anywhere, which provides a different in-and-out point while in the burning building.

Wagner said a lot of training is done both in the station and at the state fire academy to become a certified firefighter. Someone who wishes to become a firefighter needs about 188 hours of training and the combination of state classes and certifications are a big deal in the companies.

“You can’t just wake up one day and be like ‘I am going to become a firefighter today,’ there is a lot of commitment involved,” he said. “At our station we believe that family should come first.”

Wagner said the members at Brooklyn are not in the firefighting business for the glory, but to save the lives of residents in both the borough and surrounding communities.

“We are not super heroes,” he said. “Those people only exist in books and movies.”

The Brooklyn Hose Company also serves under the motto of “serve and protect” by working hard to keep both their equipment and station in working order to help when the community needs them.