Firefighters Face Rigors

Greg Ireland and Mike Harrington have met the entrance requirements for utility firefighters to join the Warren Fire Department, and will now train in a department platoon for two months.

They first passed both written and oral exams, and on Monday they successfully completed a two-part agility test, which must be done while wearing their firefighting gear. Everything in the test simulates things that would happen at a fire scene.

The first portion of the test requires a prospective fireman to climb the department’s aerial ladder, which is extended 60 feet off the ground at a 75-degree angle and then descend in two minutes, without stopping. In addition to the physical nature of the climb, it shows whether or not he has a problem with heights.

The second portion has a five-minute time limit, and is somewhat more involved.

First, a candidate must pull a 100-foot, three-inch dry hose 100 feet, drop the hose and proceed to a hydrant on the corner of Hickory Street and Third Avenue, where there is a 1 3/4 hose prearranged on the ground. He must open the hydrant 16 turns, and then drag the charged hose 100 feet up Hickory Street, and return to the front of the fire department through the municipal parking lot. There he will find a 24-foot extension ladder strapped to the building, which he must extend fully and then retract using a halyard, hand over hand. If he drops the ladder, he must repeat the revolution from the beginning.

Upon completing the ladder work, the candidate proceeds to carry a 57-pound exhaust fan from a compartment in the ladder truck to a door in the rear of the truck bay and hang it on a prearranged brace. Next, he will pick up a backpack containing 100 feet of 1 3/4 inch hose and carry it safely up to the second floor, across the hall, down the rear stairway, and return to the bottom of the front stairway.

Finally, the candidate will grab a dummy weighing 165 pounds under the arms and drag not carry it 100 feet.

Chief Sam Pascuzzi said the agility test was devised and implemented in the early 1990s, and the times were based on average times recorded by existing department members with 30 seconds added to make up for using what may be unfamiliar equipment.

Each fall, the test is set up again for current firefighters, who can receive a raise in pay for maintaining their agility abilities.