From the Firehouse: February 2022

From the Firehouse by Jack Halchak, Past Chief HFD
February 2022

The Hurleyville Fire Department is always looking for help, to fight fire or support those that do. We even supply all the gear and provide all the training needed, for free. Stop by any Monday night and find out how you can help.
The year 2021 in review for the Hurleyville Fire Department:
We lost five members last year: Phil Featherbay, Sr., Mark Carlson, Gary Charnow, Honorary Member Joe Garcia, and Lee Berger.
Unfortunately, we did not gain any new members in 2021.
We responded to 136 calls in 2021. That is up from 96 in 2020, but not as high as 143 in 2019. Activated alarms continue to be the most common call.
For the start of 2022, we gained a new member, Ron Besimer. Welcome aboard, Ron.
County wide fire departments have already responded to 29 structure fires as of 01/24/2022.
At one of those working structure fires, we lost Forestburgh Assistant Chief William “Billy” J. Steinberg. Billy responded to the fire as mutual aid to Monticello Fire Department with the Forestburgh Fire Department. At the scene he had a medical issue and was transported to the hospital where he passed away.
In the fire service, this is considered a LODD (Line of Duty Death). Billy was buried with full Firematic Honors as hundreds of his brother and sister firefighters lined Broadway Monticello in what we in the fire service call a “Sea of Blue” as Billy made his final journey from the funeral home to the church. In addition to the “Sea of Blue,” Broadway was filled with 65-plus fire trucks and ambulances from all over Sullivan County and our neighboring counties. As the funeral procession traveled down Broadway the sun was bright with a clear blue sky over head as a helicopter flew up Broadway and hovered over Billy in an aerial salute. Rest in peace, Billy.
In a recent fire in the Bronx, 17 people lost their lives in an apartment complex fire. Residents stated that they commonly heard the fire alarms going off and nobody reacted to them. This time it was real, and it is believed that residents did not react right away to the alarm. I have preached to CLOSE THE DOOR on your way out of a fire. Doors have a fire rating on how long they should last before they are breached by fire. By closing the door, you contain the fire and cut off its oxygen. This is why you see self-closing doors in schools, hospitals etc. Again, it is believed that doors were left open which helped the spread of fire and deadly smoke.
This brings me to activated alarms. Fire Departments are responding to many, many activated alarms, and when they arrive on scene it turns out to be burnt food, the steam from a shower, spray deodorant, air freshener, dust, dead battery, bad sensor etc. Proper maintenance can help prevent some of these false activated alarms. In some cases, fire departments are going to the same place a couple of times a week. If an alarm keeps going off for the same reason, fix it. You cannot have a sensor right outside of the shower and expect it to not go off from the steam of the shower. Move it. If you keep burning food, take a cooking lesson (only joking). Maybe the sensor is too close to the stove, move it. Above all, treat every single alarm as the real thing. We in the fire serviced do.
As I have preached throughout the years in writing this column, you NEED to have working smoke and CO detectors in your home. They may save your life.
Winter has finally arrived. We had our first big snowstorm, and I see many fire hydrants dug out and some in town buried by private snow plowers hired to do driveways. A fire hydrant in front of your house can be your best friend, but not if the fire department cannot access it.
Do not forget that the fire department’s 34th Annual Ice Fishing Contest is Saturday, February 12 at Morningside Lake in Hurleyville from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. See the ad elsewhere in this edition of The Hurleyville Sentinel. You can contact me for more information. (845) 796-8598, or go on Facebook (J.W.Halchak) for the flyer and up to date information.