Millerton Fire Company makes sure its members are ready to rescue citizens in any situation, according to First Assistant Chief Todd Bourdette.
“We were just recertified in the voluntary rescue certification through the state,” said Bourdette, adding he believes Millerton and Wellsboro may be the only fire companies in the county with that certification. “That basically means we went above what’s required, and we’ve focused a lot on rescue. We went way further in depth with it.”
Bourdette said the rescue certification, developed by the Rescue Task Force of the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s EMS Office, has three levels – basics, operations and advanced.
“We’re operations so we’re right in the middle. We could probably be advanced with the level of training we have, but it comes down to the amount of equipment required,” he said. “We have to have three trucks in order to carry all the equipment for the operations level. The advanced level would require us to have another truck or bigger trucks and more equipment.”
Bourdette said the certification also has a rigorous inspection process and mandates strict documentation of members’ training and the department’s equipment.
Some of that equipment includes various hand tools and power tools, ropes, rigging equipment, a generator, electric equipment such as lighting, ladders, communication equipment like radios, air bags, winches, emergency vehicle equipment like the jaws of life, rams, hydraulic tools, saws, personal emergency equipment, turnout gear and more.
“We just purchased a supplied air respirator unit for confined spaces, so if we’re going down a sewer or silo, it has a line that hooks directly to air tanks outside. So, you could potentially stay in there hours to rescue someone,” said Bourdette.
While Millerton primarily serves Jackson Township in Tioga County and Wells Township in Bradford County, it responds to mutual aid calls anywhere in Tioga County, said Bourdette.
“We’re pretty much available for anyone in the county. Other departments understand what we do and a lot of them know if they have say, a rope situation, they call us,” he said.
Millerton’s members are trained in several rescue techniques for just about any situation – ropes/rigging, hazmat, confined spaces, vehicle emergencies, highway incidents, evacuations, water and ice rescues, and of course, firefighting and rescues.
Many members are also trained in basic or advanced Rapid Intervention Team, used to rescue fellow firefighters if an emergency occurs on a call. The department is also certified as a Quick Response Service through the Pa. Dept. of Health, which allows trained members to treat medical emergencies.
On Oct. 23 and 24, they held silo rescue training, using hauling, lowering and rigging systems to lower members down into silos.
“It was a very fun course,” said Bourdette. “It’s nice because a lot of our people are advanced in ropes training, which makes things makes much more interesting.”
In September, several members participated in Ropes 5 training; Bourdette said there’s six sections of training for rope-related rescues, meaning the department only has one more to complete.
The department recapped the training on its Facebook page, saying, “Today we worked high lines across a ravine, we were able to sharpen our skills and worked through solving problems such as using a drone to get our ropes across and working on teamwork to get the job done.”
Bourdette said with eight members trained in all requirements and many with multiple trainings under their belt, someone can always step in where another person can’t.
“Our people are all invested. As new members come in, we develop them and start them out on the path they want to go,” said Bourdette, adding that they’re always in need of new volunteers. “We try to put it out there that it doesn’t matter what your skill level or desire is, or your age, there’s always a job available.”
The department conducts training at 7 p.m. every Monday at its station, 15 North Main St., Millerton. Bourdette said anyone interested in volunteering is invited to attend. For more information, message the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Millerton-Fire-Company-316133125163671.