Firefighters get to train locally thanks to A.E. Robinson

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Several area departments had the opportunity to get in some house fire-related training thanks to A.E. Robinson Oil Company President/CEO/owner Jim Robinson. He purchased an old home at 1053 South Street next to an A.E. Robinson garage and on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 29 the structure and garage were used by firefighters for ground ladder, hose advancement, search and rescue, roof ventilation, and more.

Looking on from the edge of the scene with signage and cones along Route 7 letting cars driving by know what was happening, Robinson said he bought the property mostly for the adjacent land. 

“I thought what a good chance for the fire department to come in and train and bring some awareness to the public so they will take better care of their own property,” Robinson said. He said he hopes residents will think of proper usage of all their home appliances and having working smoke alarms with batteries in place.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CUTTING THROUGH — Firefighters saw through the metal roof of an old garage as part of a training session on Sunday, Oct. 29 in Dover-Foxcroft. A.E. Robinson Oil Company President/CEO/owner Jim Robinson purchased an old home at 1053 South Street and he let the house and adjacent garage be used by area fire departments for training exercises such as roof ventilation, hose advancement, ground ladder work, search and rescue, and more.

The home was built in the late 1920s/early 1930s and would have needed a great deal of work. “The property line is 18 inches from ours so I thought it was worth more to us than anybody else,” Robinson said.

He said he is unsure of what he will do with the land once the house is taken down, but in the meantime he thought it would be an ideal location for firefighter training.

Robinson said the region’s volunteer fire departments do an outstanding job. “Anything I can do to support them, I’m there. These guys are 100 percent dedicated,” he said. “My whole family, my brothers and myself, were in the fire department years ago.” 

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CARRY OUT — A pair of firefighters had their masks covered to replicate searching through a home with zero visibility. They needed to locate an unconscious person in a bedroom and then safely carry them out.

Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department Training Officer Jon Buckingham said he wants to thank Jim Robinson and A.E. Robinson for all they have done to support the department over the years. “Getting a house like this is a very, very huge asset for us. Most of the time we have to travel long distances to get any type of training like this so this is a huge opportunity for us and I just want to thank them again for everything they’ve done for us.”

Buckingham said the entire county was invited and Oct. 29 firefighters from Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Monson, Sangerville, and Sebec were able to take part in the training.

“We have a couple of operations that we are doing,” he said. “One of the stations we are doing is roof ventilation, which goes over how to remove heat and smoke and toxic gasses by cutting a hole in the roof. We have ground ladder operations where we’re putting up a ground ladder to a window.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
REACHING THE SECOND STORY — A ground ladder is used to get to the second story during a firefighter training session for multiple departments in Dover-Foxcroft on Oct. 29. The home was recently purchased by Robinson Oil Company President/CEO/owner Jim Robinson who let the structure be used for firefighter training.

“We have hose advancement so they have to take a hose line, deploy the hose line, and charge it up a second floor and inside we have a search and rescue going on.”

“After lunch we are doing what’s called RIT training which is Rapid Intervention Team and what that does, is if there’s a firefighter that goes down in a fire these guys go in and help rescue them,” Buckingham said. He said they would also be going over procedures such as making sure a fire is out.

“Unfortunately due to the location of the house we can’t burn it but it’s still a huge asset to us to be able to get everybody together,” Buckingham said. “We have all levels of training from junior firefighters right up to senior firefighters and firefighter IIs.”

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
LADDER TRUCK — The Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department ladder truck was used during a training session on South Street on Oct. 29.

With the Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department’s ladder truck bucket extended over the barn Buckingham explained how the firefighters first checked the roof by hitting it with their ax to help locate a truss and determine if it can support their weight before stepping on top of the structure. He said the turnout gear weighs about 40 pounds and then there is another 40 pounds with the airpack on.

A ladder with hooks on the end was then put in place for extra stability on the metal roof. Buckingham said some swings of the ax create additional foot holes next to the ladder.

A 12-inch rotary saw sent sparks flying as a hole in the metal was cut. Buckingham said the department also has the ability to cut through concrete and masonry with specialty blades. With the removed metal piece having fallen to the ground, the firefighters used the back of the ax like a sledgehammer to break through the trusses, which Buckingham said prevents the sharp end from getting stuck.

He said the ladder truck, which can extend to 100 feet up to an 80-degree angle and can also reach below such as in a gorge, cannot go everywhere so firefighters were also training with a ground ladder to reach a second story window.

In a smoke-filled home visibility may be very low or non-existent so firefighters need to communicate with each other when they cannot see when trying to locate someone who may be inside. Buckingham said for training firefighters had their masks covered for the search and rescue exercise.

With a firefighter in the bedroom, two others came into the adjacent room crawling on the floor. They talked with each other and felt their way into the bedroom, where they found the unconscious person and dragged them out to safety. The training firefighters then needed to go back in the room to make sure no one else was in there.

“People that are in the fire service, they have a passion for it,” Buckinghm said. He said he has been a firefighter for 23 years, following in his father’s footsteps. 

Buckingham said it takes a special person to get up at 2 a.m. when a call goes out after having worked all day and needing to go back to work the next day.

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