Emergency personnel stay prepared for action

Posted March 30, 2007

The La Verne Fire Department was still on its toes and ready to jump into action at the first call of danger even after six hours of no emergency calls.

They average about four calls a day.

“The fire service has evolved over the past 50 years that we no longer primarily focus on fires,” Capt. Dave Benson said.

They range from medical calls, fire calls, urban search and rescues, trauma runs – which is when a victim is severely injured – to minuscule calls such as helping an elderly person stand up after a fall.

“If it’s a fire my adrenaline is pumping,” Apprentice Fireman Danny Arellano said. “I’m nervous but excited, not really scared, I just want to go out there and get the job done,”

A loud tone is heard over the intercom to signal an emergency.

“It sounds like an alarm clock on steroids,” Arellano said.

There are many benefits to being a firefighter. Scheduling is good, with a firefighter usually working two days and then resting four.

They make a decent living out of helping others, it’s a secure profession and the crew becomes like a second family.

However, scheduling is not always convenient and holidays and special occasions are often spent working.

It can be difficult at times living with other firefighters for a two-day period because they witness a lot of misery.

“It can wear on you after seeing a lot of pain and despair,” Fireman/Paramedic Kevin Palm said.

The La Verne firefighters are required to be paramedics as well.

They start their two-day shifts by checking in at the station at 7 a.m. even though their shift doesn’t start until 8 a.m. which gives them time to talk to the firefighters they are relieving to see if there are any problems.

At 8 a.m. there is a meeting to talk about what is going to be happening throughout the day.

The firemen stay in shape by working out from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. by either walking around La Verne or working out in the weight room.

The engineer, who is the driver of Engine 61, checks to see if the fire truck is working properly.

He turns on the lights, checks the sirens and makes sure the hoses can pump water.

The rest of the crew makes sure they have all the gear and safety equipment.

Compartments on the trucks are checked to see if all the equipment is present and to see if anything needs to be restocked.

Anytime tools, like a chainsaw, are checked a hat, jacket and gloves must be worn as a safety precaution.

Then they tidy up and get ready for lunch around 11 a.m. or noon and then they have a break.

The firemen carry yellow walkie-talkies when they leave the station to be in contact at all times.

Occasionally they have inspections after lunch to make sure everything is in good condition. They go over reports, work on projects and sometimes hold classes.

Around 6 p.m., they have dinner, which they usually cook themselves but sometimes they go out to eat.

After dinner, the firefighters are free to do their own thing at the station which consists of watching TV, playing cards, studying or talking on the phone.

Depending on how exhausted they are, they will go to sleep around 9 to 11 p.m.

The station is a two-story building that consists of four offices, a conference room with a long table, a shop area which has a washer and dryer and a work bench, dorms, locker rooms, a day area, weight room and a kitchen.

The day area has six reclining chairs, a big screen TV and a pool table.

The kitchen looks as though it is on fire with its bright orange cabinets; it has a dinner table/ poker table.

The dorms are small rooms in two separate areas. The battalion chief has his own bedroom and restroom. The two paramedics, fireman and apprentice fireman share a room with four twin beds. The engineer and captain have their own room that is connected to the others.

The locker rooms have two sinks, showers, stalls and urinals.

There are two poles that connect the top and bottom floor. However, they are rarely used because the firemen opt to use the stairs.

The La Verne Fire Department has two stations and a third is scheduled to open on May 12.

Even when the La Verne Fire Department is resting, they are still on duty waiting for peace to be obstructed to help protect the public from danger.

Ginny Ceballos can be reached at gceballos@ulv.edu.

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