Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Climbing the Ladder

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Climbing the Ladder

Article excerpt

BERGENFIELD -- While firefighters in training can't run into a burning home, that doesn't mean they can't help when the smoke is pouring out the windows and flames are shooting through the roof.

The trainees -- usually known as junior, reserve or auxiliary firefighters -- can, among other things, prep hydrants, stretch hoses and set up ladders so their superiors can focus on tamping down the blaze. On Sunday, about 50 firefighters-to-be -- most in their teens -- from Bergenfield, Old Tappan, Alpine, Park Ridge, Tenafly, New Milford, Rutherford, Emerson and Harrington Park honed these skills at the Bergenfield Fire Training Center.

"We're short-handed these days," said Old Tappan Firefighter Bill Auth, who runs his department's junior program. "They can't go into a burning building by law but they can assist us outside."

The recruits drilled over and over again for several hours, rotating between different stations where they learned to use a breathing mask and air pack, push ladders up against a building, hook a hose up to a hydrant, tie knots into ropes that would be strong enough to lift a person, and keep a flowing hose under control.

"We need this to become muscle memory," said Marc Sulcov, a former Fort Lee chief and current instructor at the county's fire academy, as he coached knot-tying. "I like seeing the 'aha' moment."

The firefighters also took a pit stop at the "rehab" station, staffed by the Bergenfield Volunteer Ambulance Corps, where their vitals would be checked and they'd take a break and rehydrate.

"We don't want to be sending firefighters back into a scene when there is something going on," said Marc Infield, an ambulance crew chief, noting the critical 24-hour period after a fire when problems, such as heart attacks, could occur. "You don't want to find out later that there was something that could have been prevented. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.