The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department Today

The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department is a nonprofit emergency services organization, conducting fire supression, rescue, and other emergency response operations at a moment's notice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Based from a station on Rt. 133 in Pawlet Village, in the southwestern corner of Rutland County, Vermont, we are the first-due fire response agency for a 25 square mile district, encompassing the eastern half of Pawlet and adjoining parts of Rupert, Danby, and Tinmouth as well. We also provide fire protection and emergency response to surrounding fire districts through a robust system of mutual aid, in which neighboring fire departments call upon one another for assistance, enhancing preparedness throughout the region.

Like many fire departments in Vermont today, the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department is an independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, not a municipal agency. Our department is financed partially by the Town of Pawlet and partially by the general public, by way of donations and fundraisers. Our department is one of nine fire departments in Western Vermont dispatched by the Washington County Department of Public Safety, based in Fort Edward, New York.

Pawlet's fire department is an all-volunteer outfit, comprised entirely of individuals who donate their time without monetary compensation.

More Than Just Firefighting

Today's fire service handles much more than just fire. The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department is also tasked as the primary response agency for rescue, vehicle extrication, hazardous materials incidents, gas leaks, and many other emergency service functions.  We assist the Vermont State Police with traffic control following motor vehicle incidents and search operations for lost persons, mitigate hazardous situations such as tress and wires down in roadways, and assist the Granville Rescue Squad at medical emergencies that require additional manpower or the prompt delivery of basic life support services. We also provide non-emergency services to homeowners in Pawlet, including filling pools and cisterns, conducting perscribed burns of wildland areas, and assisting with utility problems such as flooded basements.

The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department is also responsible for developing and maintaining the emergency water supply infrastructure in Pawlet, a system of dry hydrants located strategically throughout the town. These non-pressured pipe systems allows firefighters to quickly draw water from a static source, like a pond or river, in the event of a fire. The PVFD has tripled the number of hydrants in Pawlet in the last five years alone.

Training

Pawlet's firefighters may be unpaid, but are professionals nonetheless, and hold themselves to nationally-recognized standards for fire service training. Most firefighters on our department have put in several hundred hours of accredited fire service training conducted through the Vermont Fire Academy, and many of our members have earned firefighter professional certifications under NFPA 1001, Standard on Firefighter Professional Qualifications, and NFPA 1041, Standard on Fire Service Instructor Professional Qualifications. We conduct over 30 training sessions per year, both in-house and alongside other local fire departments, including live-fire exercises. In 2015 alone, our volunteers dedicated over 950 person-hours to building preparedness for emergencies here in Pawlet.

Firefighter Equipment

Every Pawlet firefighter is issued personal protective equipment (PPE) based on their level of training and the role they might serve at an emergency scene. Pawlet firefighters wear black coats and pants with lime and silver trim. The differences in color between departments allow officers to quickly differentiate their members at fire scenes.  These garments provide the heat and abrasion protection necessary for structural firefighting. They weigh roughly 15 pounds dry and are very warm to wear, due to the insulation. Helmets, boots, gloves, and a Nomex hood complete the ensamble. As on many other departments, in Pawlet helmet color denotes rank: orange for junior firefighters, yellow for firefighters, red for company officers, white for chief officers. Taken together, this equiptment weighs roughly 35lbs dry, and costs roughly $3400. These garments must be replaced every ten years to comply with NFPA regulations. If still servicable, this older gear is used to outfit members whose role on the fireground will not require thermal protection.

Dealing with superheated gasses and highly toxic smoke requires respiratory protection, which comes in the form of the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus or SCBA. this consists of a carbon fiber air bottle strapped to a backpack with a pressure regulator, and a mask that the firefighter wears. This is system provides breathing air for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the rate of consumption. It weighs about 20 pounds and costs roughly $5000.

The equiptment carried by firefighters is rounded our by radios, flashlights, and hand tools. Radios allows coordination and provide a great deal of added safety by giving each member the ability to call for help. These devices cost $450 each. Firefighter hand tools range from simple, familair tools like axes, rakes, and shovels to highly specialized tools such as halligan bars, pike poles, and roof hooks.

Apparatus

The core of our emergency response equipment is our fire trucks, or "apparatus" in the parlance of the fire service. We currently have two combination pumper/tankers and a "brush" truck, each fully equipped with all manner of firefighting and rescue gear, from hoses and axes that would be familiar to a firefighter of yesteryear to advanced modern electronics such as thermal imaging cameras, multi-gas detectors, and defibrillators. Each apparatus is maintained with pride to provide optimal readiness for emergencies in our community.

ETA 542

Engine/Tanker Apparatus 542 is our first-due engine. Custom-built for Pawlet by E-One on a Freightliner chassis, 542's features include a 1,250 gallon-per-minute pump, an internal 1,000 gallon tank with quick dump, a deck gun, a Class A foam injection system, a 250 GPM portable pump, four types of power saws, two generators, medical equiptment including an AED and oxygen, and a wide array of tools and equiptment for rescue, fire supression, and extrication.

ETA 542 carries three types of hose: two diameters of "attack" or firefighting hose, a canvas-jacketed rubber hose that offers extreme durability, plus over a quater-mile of 4" large diameter water supply hose loaded into an elevated bed at the rear of the truck. This allows the hose to be deployed or "laid" behind the truck as it drives into a fire scene or a fill site. It also carries four different ladders, including a unique 20' folding roof ladder.



ETA 541

Pawlet's second pumping aparatus is constructed on an International chassis. It is equipped in much the same manner as ETA 542, and provides us with the ability to respond to much larger emergencies than a single apparatus could handle. Like 542, this combination pumper/tanker uses its powerful diesel engine to drive high-pressure water systems once parked at the scene of a fire, and is also capable of serving as a tanker. It carries 1,300 gallons of water and a 1,500 gallon portable tank and has a rear-mounted electronic quick-dump valve.





Brush 544

544 is a Type 6 wildland apparatus custom-built on a Ford Super Duty 4x4 chassis. It is equipped with a 340 gallon water tank and a high-pressure pump with Class A foam injection, ideal for supressing wildland fires in rugged terrain. Thanks to a standalone pump motor, it has the unique capability of pumping and driving at once. Along with wildland gear, 544 also carries a winch and equipment for general-purpose firefighting, rescue, traffic control, and emergency medical response.


Officers

The following officers proudly lead the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department for 2016-2017:

Fire Officers:

Chief: Jonathan Weiss
1st Assistant Chief: William McKenzie
2nd Assistant Chief: Bob Morlino
Captain: Ronnie Waite
Lieutenant: James Glick

 

Corporate Officers:

Treasurer: Fran Powers
President: Lars Lund
Vice President: Jim Becker
Secretary: Theresa Jones