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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

“Checking Things Out” at the CVFD Open House

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, October 16, 2005

Holly Boudreau, 3, sampled pizza during an Oct. 15 Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department open house.
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Clarksburg – Brandon DiGennaro, 7, sat behind the steering wheel of a Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department fire engine with a broad smile on his face. The big, powerful truck dwarfed Brandon’s small physique but not his enthusiasm.

“I came here to check out what was going on,” Brandon said. “I’m sure glad I did; I’m in the fire truck!”

An Oct. 15 fire department open house drew about 30 children and 18 adults to the Hall’s Ground fire station. Fun, food, and education were the order of the day; firefighters had plenty of pizza, potato chips, soft drinks and coffee on hand as well as fire safety coloring sheets, boxes of crayons, plastic red fire helmets, and informational booklets about items such as smoke detectors. About a dozen uniformed firefighters were on hand to answer questions, provide firehouse tours, and socialize with the visitors.


Max Daugherty, 4, tried out a fire truck passenger seat.
The big draw was access to the fire trucks; just about every child at the event sounded horns, rang bells, climbed in and out of trucks, and sat for a few minutes behind a steering wheel.

Holly Boudreau, 3, was eager to share her firehouse experience.

“You know what I like to do with the truck?” she asked, then immediately answered “I like to beep the horn.”

The event was held in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week, which concluded on Oct. 15, said fire department Chief Carlyle “Chip” Chesbro.

“We wanted to make people aware of fire prevention and show off our new tanker,” Chesbro said.

New Tanker Truck

The tanker is believed to be the first “vac tank” owned by a Berkshire County fire department, Chesbro said. The truck cost $203,000 at delivery; the department plans to add features that will bring the total cost to about $206,000, Chesbro said. A $157,500 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and a $40,000 match contribution from the town funded most of the cost and the fire company paid the remaining costs, Chesbro said.

Nathan Biagini,15 months old, appeared delighted with a child-sized "fireman's helmet."


The truck’s benefits are significant, Chesbro said. A patented Firovac vacuum system, which is used in place of a centrifugal pump, allows the tanker to fill with water in about two minutes and 10 seconds at a rate of about 1,500 gallons of water per minute, Chesbro said. Filling a tanker using traditional systems can take 15 minutes or longer in extreme situations, and requires engine or portable pump set-up, set-up of hoses and firefighter manpower before water can be loaded into the tanker.

The new tanker operates more efficiently, Chesbro said.

“Everything is run from the cab [of the truck],” Chesbro said. “It frees up an engine and manpower.”

The tanker can collect water from just about any available water source, which is extremely beneficial to rural fire departments, Chesbro said. Most rural neighborhoods do not have fire hydrants so water must be carried to fires in tanker trucks.

The truck boasts a Freightliner cab and chassis, a Firovac tank, and was assembled by V Tech of Williamstown, Vt., Chesbro said. The truck is equipped with a tandem axle approved by the National Fire Protective Association. The body is constructed of polyprene, a heavy-duty plastic-like material with some flexibility.


Emily McLain, 3, examined the many parts of a fire truck.
“This truck is made to move large amounts of water fast,” Chesbro said. “It’s resilient, so if you do hit it, it may come back [return to its’ original contours].”

Big Boots To Fill

Trying on firefighter “turnout gear” – the heavy protective pants, coats, boots, and helmets worn by firefighters during fire calls- was a highlight of the open house. Several parents chuckled as their children attempted to wriggle themselves into outfits that were cumbersome in weight and size. Town fire department Lt. James Howe helped his daughters Natalie, 8, and Molly, 10, as they cloaked themselves in the apparel.

Matthew Meranti, 8, and Natalie Howe, 8, were among those who tried on firefighter "turnout gear."


Natalie said that she believed that fighting fires while wearing the clothing was “hard,” and Molly said that firefighting “depends on how strong you are.”

Fireman Michael Therrien was among the volunteers in attendance at the event. He said that he was enjoying the open house and the exuberance of the children.

“It’s community involvement,” he said of the event. “It’s letting people see what we do.”

A multiphotograph Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department Open House will be posted at www.iberkshires.com during the upcoming week.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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