This course is
designed to provide fire service and public safety organizations the basics to develop their honor guard and color guard units.
This course is intended to offer a unique training environment that will provide basic guidance for the standardization of
training methods, instruction in proper drill movement and techniques, leadership enhancement, and team confidence building.
The course covered the following material: basic drill
and ceremonial movements, church and casket protocol, developing department SOPs for honor guards and color guards, public
safety officer benefits, flag etiquette, honor guard commander leadership training, various types of funeral services, and
honor guard and color guard history.
Congratulations to Fire Fighter Jason Wellings for completing this one week course at
the Connecticut Fire Academy.
Four members of Local 3954 attended this class:
Dennis Carlson, Mark Morrison, Jason Szemreylo and Brian Gagnon.
A course in 'Horse911:' Area firefighters learn how to save horses in
ENFIELD - Most of the firefighters had never touched a horse, let alone put a halter on one.
"I rode a merry-go-round once," one firefighter quipped when asked of his prior equestrian experience.
Shane from Crystal Lake, and I'm actually afraid of horses," another announced.
The firefighters from Ellington, Crystal Lake, Stafford, West Stafford, Somers, and Tolland
were part of the sixth in a series of on-site workshops coordinated by the Connecticut Horse Council's "Horse911" project,
an initiative aimed at teaching members of all of
Connecticut's fire departments basic horse-handling techniques and promoting
fire prevention and preparedness among barn owners.
Typical horse barns made of dry timber and with hay bales stacked
to the rafters all have one nightmarish commonality. If a fire breaks out, it spreads swiftly, and without quick intervention
by rescuers, the horses inside can suffocate or burn to death within minutes.
Though their imposing stature and strength
might suggest otherwise, horses are fragile creatures when it comes to smoke, heat, and fire. Once a fire is within 10 feet
of a horse, it can suffocate within three minutes, said Amy Stegall, a Stafford resident who is president of the Connecticut
Horse Council and a coordinator of Monday's workshop.
"A horse has large nostrils, and it's going to be inhaling a large
amount of smoke," she said. "Even if it isn't burned, it can still die from smoke inhalation."
It's an event horse lovers
would rather not think about, but with the right training, firefighters - if they arrive in time - can save the lives of the
horses as well prevent concerned bystanders without fire gear from risking a potentially fatal rescue attempt.
Roundtuit Ranch initial caution quickly gave way to wide smiles as each firefighter got up close and personal with the three
cooperative volunteers - the ranch's horses, Pippi, Comet, and Ozzie.
One by one, each firefighter approached one of
the horses, talking softly to announce their presence, coming up to the left side of the horse - never directly in front or
behind - and offering a hand to sniff and a gentle rub of the neck.
Pippi, a 13-year-old dark chestnut mare, seemed to
take the attention in stride, though her ears perked quizzically as a pump truck that was parked incongruously in the center
of the ranch's enclosed riding ring fired up its diesel engine and began to flash blue and red strobe lights.
firefighter then took a turn leading a now slightly anxious horse around the truck, buttressed by experienced handlers ready
to take over if the noise and flashing lights got the better of the animals.
But the horses were good, and by night's end,
each firefighter was trained to approach a horse, put on its halter, and lead it to safety, recognizing and reacting to cues
from the animal's demeanor and avoiding injury if the horse panicked.
Horses have a habit of stubbornly holding their
ground in their stalls even in the face of danger, and have been known to flee back into burning barns once freed, according
to Halide Caine, the workshop's facilitator.
That's why learning to lead the horse is so important.
Caine told the
firefighters to use caution when deciding whether to attempt a rescue.
"We don't want you running into a burning barn,
thinking you might be able to save a horse. If that barn is fully engulfed, it's over," she said. "Sometimes by the time you
arrive it will be too late."
Barn fires are often caused by faulty wiring, lightning strikes, and improperly baled
hay, which can spontaneously combust in the right conditions, according to Caine.
Part of Horse911 has been teaching barn
managers how to guard against common causes of fires.
The horse-handing abilities now held by the firefighters could easily
come in handy in the more likely event of a loose horse or an accident involving a horse trailer, Caine said.
three hours of hands-on instruction, many firefighters said they came away feeling more confident in their ability to help
save a horse.
"I haven't been on a horse since I was very small," said
Patricia Loftus of the Somers Fire Department.
"My exposure was pony rides when I was very little - didn't have to do anything other than sit. The training here tonight
was wonderful. I'm very, very pleased that they offered it."
Brian Gagnon of the Tolland Fire Department said
he planned to share what he'd learned with others.
"In our community, we actually have a lot of horse farms, and this
has definitely been a useful training. I don't think tonight is the end of that training, but the beginning."