It’s not just flashing lights and sirens

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in

It’s not just flashing lights and sirens

Holyoke fire Department Headquarters Sign.


We’ve all been there.  You are minding your business, trying to get home or to the store and you hear it.  Blaring sirens.  You check your rear view mirror because you still aren’t sure if the sound is coming from behind your or coming at you.  You pull to the side of the road as you see the flashing lights come up behind you.  This is different.  This isn’t a show at a parade or a tour for an elementary school. My grandmother always told us, whenever you see a fire truck, police car or ambulance with its lights on to say a prayer. Something I told my children also, and can still remember them in their car seats saying…”mom, an ambulance!!! Pray for who is inside!” Fast forward all these years and I am still sitting on the side of the road while a fire truck speeds by saying a prayer for safety for all those involved.

These men and women, don’t know what they are headed into.  The conditions, the heat, the danger.  They do it anyways.  Half way there, they don’t say “ya know….I don’t really feel like doing this today”.  They don’t hear the alarm at the station at 2AM and get to hit snooze on it.  They accept the risk, and do the job set before them.

I had the great opportunity to visit our Holyoke Fire Department Headquarters on High Street and get an amazing tour.  The facility is impressive, as are those in it.  I had an up close tour of the fire engines and trucks (yes there is a difference….I just learned this myself. An engine has water and a truck has equipment!) and I can tell you, I had no idea how much was in and on them!  Come with us here at Ross Insurance as we take you on this great tour in pictures and videos!  Hopefully you will learn something you never knew and like me, after reading, you will have a greater appreciation and admiration for these men and women!


My tour started with Firefighter Brian Kraus. This is Tactical Unit 1. It is dispatched for medical calls. It doesn’t look much like your typical ambulance but they can do some amazing things out of this truck!


This is Engine 1. It can hold 750 gallons of water. Engines 1, 2 and 3 are the same set up. This is a picture of where the hose would connect to get water. As well as TONS of controls!


A look at Engine 1 all ready to go should the need arise!


Speaking of ready to go……everyone has their gear ready to get on as quickly as possible at a moments notice! Depending on where on the truck they are positioned is where you will find their gear.



At this point in the tour Firefighter Kraus was pulled away for a medical call.



The engines and trucks are fitted with these incredibly bright LED spotlights. This one telescopes up and is adjustable. When they are headed to a place where there may be no street lights or a very dimly lit area having this kind of light on board is a huge help!



Firefighter Shawn McNulty is          showing me what is in all the compartments. This one has extra hoses and tools.


The red plastic you see on that top shelf are industrial tarps. The first goal is for safety and rescue if needed, but if the scene is secure and they can do it safely they will bring these tarps in to cover furniture or paintings to try and save it from water damage.


This is where extra oxygen tanks are stored. There are 3 in this compartment. Now breathing normal one of these tanks can last 30 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I would use half of this getting out of the truck!! With the heat and heavy breathing the available air in this tank can be diminished in 15-20 minutes. YIKES!


These are various tools that could be used to enter a building or home that is locked or obstructed, or to rake out a brush or wild fire. FYI There is NO BURNING IN HOLYOKE. The end!


These are NOT your under the kitchen sink Fire Extinguishers! They all do something different and are used to put out different types of fires. By the way: Everyone should have at least 1 fire extinguisher in your home and you should know how to use it!


This is the medical kit. There is everything they could need to respond to a medical need on the scene. There is also a trauma kit for more severe injuries that require more than standard care.


This is how they get the ladder down on the Engine 1.



This is a thermal imager. It can detect hot spots. It comes in handy if maybe there has been a fire in an electrical outlet and they want to make sure it hasn’t spread in the walls.


I tried on an oxygen tank and can I just tell you it is NO JOKE. It is heavy and cumbersome. When all the gear is on it can weigh in excess of 40-50lbs. Then your jacket and helmet are weighted down by water, and you are lugging a hose. I could NEVER do it, and am so glad that they can!!!


This is a gauge that tells you how much oxygen you have left. In your mask you have lights. Green is good, yellow is getting low, red is your are just about done so get out. The lights are visible to you in the mask but when it gets to the red it also sends out a vibration as an alarm. This device also sends out an alarm that progressively gets louder if the person wearing it has NOT moved in 20 seconds which could signal others you need help.


This hood protects any exposed skin you may have to the heat/fire. I was told that you can really tell a difference if you don’t have one on!


This jacket is so heavy. I held it and I can only describe it as a carhart type jacket x 1,000. If it had been wet, I am not sure I could have easily lifted  it.


Please, if you hear this, GET OUT OF THE WAY!  Pull over and let these Firefighters get to where they need to!


This fire truck has a ladder on it that can go up 105 feet. I start to get nauseous on my step stool, I can’t even imagine 105 feet in the air.


This truck contains the Jaws of Life that Firefighter Kraus is showing us. They are heavy, awkward and have a clear task. They can be used in extracting people from a severely damaged vehicle where no other way is possible or safe to get them out!


This is the back of Truck 1. That garage door part, when lifted, exposes controls to bring out the side outriggers that extend out 5 ft to help balance and secure the truck when the ladder is up. The white gas grill looking thing on the top is where the controls to the ladder are.




This is the Fire Boat. It can be used for rescue on the CT. River, maybe someone falling through the ice, or sadly a recovery attempt.


This boat isn’t as powerful and would typically be used more in the canals here in Holyoke.


I know you’ve been waiting for it!! Yes….there is a Fire Pole!!! What would a fire station be without it. Don’t be fooled though, these are incredibly high and not as easy to use as one would think!

I learned a lot while I was there!  There were even calls that went out and I saw first hand how professional and quickly these Firefighters worked to get out of the station!  Next time you see a firefighter, please thank them for what they do.  They are away from their family for 24 hours.  That might not seem like a lot to you, but it could be a life changing 24 hours.  They sacrifice and protect and I have never been more proud than I was walking and learning from these people!  I hope you learned something also!

Special thank you to the Holyoke Fire Department, Chief Pond, Lt. Pelchat and FireFighters Kraus and McNulty for the thorough and wonderful tour!

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *