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Firemen participate in training; host annual ball PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   
    With summer around the corner and hotter temperatures on the way, members of the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department prepare for their Annual Firemen’s Ball at 9 p.m. this Saturday, June 13 at the Holyoke Vets Club.
    “Big Ronnie and the Circuit Breakers” will be the live band providing the evening’s entertainment.
    The Firemen’s Ball is the main source of income throughout the year for the department. Money raised is used for training, education, special activities and the administrative cost of the department.
    During the 2008 year, the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department responded to 38 fire alarms with an average of 10 firemen answering each call. The breakdown of calls were 20 rural fires and 18 city fires.
    Of those, nine were motor vehicle accidents, three were false alarms, two mutual assistance calls, six gas leaks, two unreported controlled burns, three structure fires, two grass/stubble fires, six nursing home calls and one car fire.
    Department members logged a total of 292.1 hours on fire calls, 802 hours of training and a total of 1,607.8 service hours.
    One of the big activities came in March of this year when 26 area firemen participated in the Firefighter 1 Training Academy held in Holyoke.
    Firemen from Holyoke, Haxtun and Amherst met every other weekend as well as on two Wednesdays for training at the Lions Den. All together 1,773 training hours were logged by the 26 participants, according to firefighter Bob Heldenbrand.
    Seventeen of the firemen completed the testing. Of those, 10 were from Holyoke, four from Haxtun and three from Amherst.
    The academy was hosted by the Holyoke Rural Fire Protection District and the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department. Grant money from the Assistance to Firefigher Grant was used to make the event possible. Instructors, testing fees, books and meals were just a few things the money helped with.
    The department also applied for a new compressor and fill station to help fill their SCBA’s or Self Contained Breathing Apparatus with the grant.
    The training part was funneled through the Colorado State Firefighters Association outreach training program. The instructors of the program were sponsored by Dot Mechtenburg, a financial company, according to Heldenbrand.
    “Firefighter 1 is a nationally recognized training standard,” Heldenbrand said. “It’s not a requirement in Colorado but the Colorado division of fire has a voluntary program.”
    Training was split between classroom work and hands on exercises. A live burn took place at the  Sterling Fire Department training center.
    Topics from basic safety and health were discussed towards  the beginning of the program all the way through ropes, personal protective equipment, fire extinguishers, pre-hospital care, ground ladders, ventilation, fire hoses, running the pumps, communications, detectors, alarms, suppression systems, vehicle extrication, scene evidence and hazardous materials.
    Heldenbrand said there was a wide variety of experience throughout the firemen participating in the training.
    “We had guys in the class that were within their first six months of being on the department and we had guys that had been on 18 years,” Heldenbrand said. “It wasn’t just for a rookie.”
    The lead instructor for the training was Chris Probst, Outreach Training Coordinator from the Colorado State Firefighter Association. Dave Krueger from the Sterling Fire Department also helped as an instructor. Terry Andersen of Holyoke helped with the EMT training and pre-hospital care class. Chris Cross from the Fort Lupton Fire Department served as an instructor. Heldenbrand led the communications class.
    Training with other agencies was another positive that came out of the program, Heldenbrand said.
    “When you are called to a mutual aid, it’s always good to see a friendly face, somebody you know,” he added.
    “We had some guys only show up for two hours and that’s probably some of the best education they’ll have for the rest of the year,” Heldenbrand said. “We all know we walked away from it with a good education.”