Wallingford has proud firefighting tradition

Editors Note: This report is part of the Rutland Tribunes weekly series profiling area fire and rescue squads. WALLINGFORD The Wallingford Fire Department is strictly a volunteer service. However, according to Chief Jeff Dufrense, we dont like to think of ourselves as just volunteer firefighters. We consider ourselves unpaid professionals. Most of the members of Wallingfords squad are firefighter level-one certified; they go through all of the same training and emergency responses as any professional fire department. Like all fire services in Rutland County, the responsibility of Wallingford firefighters is to protect life and property in town and in surrounding communities. These 18 volunteers respond to approximately 60 calls a year. The Wallingford Fire Department serves Wallingford and South Wallingford with mutual-aid coverage extending to Clarendon, Danby, Tinmouth and East Wallingford. In some instances, Wallingfords department can be called away depending on the level of an emergency. The time commitment for these volunteers is approximately 300-1,000 hours per year or more. The certifications available, and becoming mandatory, for firefighters are almost endless, Dufrense said. The main certification is firefighter level one. This course requires 200 hours of classroom work, training, and a final exam to become certified. Within the firefighter level one class, the individual also receives other certifications, such as hazardous materials operations, he continued. Once a firefighter has completed this course, they can choose to move upward to the next level; which is firefighter level two and they continue on to more specialized levels. Dufrense said responding to a rescue situation is typical, but such a fire emergency is anything but typical no two calls are ever alike. Generally, Dufremse noted, the first arriving crew assesses the scene and then determines what the problem is or could develop into. Once the crew establishes firefighting operations, it follows the departments standard operating procedures. Emergency calls can range in duration from from 10 minutes, eight hours, and sometimes even longer. Wallingfords biggest hurdle are aquiring funds for safe and reliable trucks and equipment. The cost of firefighting equipment is on the rise, however, Wallingford attempts to offset these costs by conducting fundraising activities throughout the year including a chicken BBQ and other special events. In addition to the money hurdle, the Wallingford Fire Station was built in the 1800s as a train station. In the 1940s and 1950s, the building was used as a local U.S. Civil Defense headquarters. It wasnt until 1963 that it became the Wallingford Fire Department. The station, according to Dufrense, is an historic building which makes it more difficult to make needed changes or upgrades. Plus, the location of the building doesnt permit much opportunity for expansion. In addition, new fire apparatus isnt getting any smaller in size which poses yet another set of problems at the station; when looking into a new fire engine, the department is limited by the stations current door sizes. Despite the challenges, in nearly all areas of their duty, Wallingfords fearless volunteers meet or exceed public expectations. Volunteer firefighters are always needed. If interested, contact the Wallingford Fire Department at 802-446-2295 or e-mail wvfd3300@yahoo.com. Wallingford residents are welcome to visit the fire station and have a look around anytime personnel are on duty.

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