Firefighting: it’s more than just extinguishing fires



Firefighter David Luengas-Guayda demonstrates how essential pieces of fire equipment, like the oxygen tank and mask, function.

Chloe Barber, Arts Editor

You have seen them around when we file out to the streets during fire drills. Their bright red trucks stand out with the piercing sirens that alert you that there’s been some kind of emergency.

Although the main purpose of the Brookline Fire Department is to help prevent and extinguish fires, its members contribute to the community in many other ways, including aiding the elderly, implementing programs to teach elementary school students about safety and ultimately creating safer neighborhoods.

Responding to approximately 7,500 calls per year according to Brookline’s website, the Brookline Fire Department provides quick and reliable access to safety.

According to Brookline firefighter Patricia Cripe, there are many jobs that firefighters need to understand in an emergency. These jobs differ on the fire truck versus the fire engine: fire trucks carry ladders to rescue victims, while fire engines are the medical units which also have a hoseline to extinguish fires.

“It’s kind of like being on a football team and having to know how to do all of the different positions,” Cripe said. “Even if you are only on an engine, but if one day you end up being on the truck, you need to know how to do their job, too.”

According to David Randolph, a training captain of the Brookline Fire Department, there are many different aspects to the profession.

“The best part about my job is working with the community and helping our customers, people who live in the town, helping them to solve their problems,” Randolph said.

According to Todd Cantor, a captain in the Fire Prevention Office of the Brookline Fire Department, communicating with the town gives the Fire Department a place in the community.

“It’s nice coming to solutions with people and helping them get to a happy, safe place in their homes,” Cantor said.

According to Cantor, the Fire Department also teaches the elderly about fire prevention.

“We help out senior citizens with fire preventions directly in their homes,” Cantor said. “On occasion, we’ll get a grant that allows us to buy smoke detectors and we install them in all of their homes.”

Cripe said that the Fire Department introduces a variety of programs to spread knowledge about fire prevention, including the Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program within the Brookline schools.

“We try to educate kids so they’re not afraid, and they’re proactive in their own households,” Cripe said. “So they can take that information and go home and educate their family.”

Although the Fire Department is usually associated with responding to often tragic emergencies, Cantor wants its members to be a part of the community in a more positive light.

“We’re not always invited into people’s lives when it’s a good day,” Cantor said. “So we try to do our best to get people to at least a better place than where they were at that moment.”

According to Cantor, spending lots of time together on their shifts makes the department very close-knit.

“One of the really nice things about this job is that there’s a lot of camaraderie on the job, and exchanging ideas, or hanging out with people in the firehouse and talking about personal lives or experiences,” Cantor said.

Randolph said that the comradery within the Fire Department creates strong bonds between the members.

“We build a lot of relationships, and you don’t just consider the people you work with friends–you consider them family,” Randolph said.

Cripe believes that the Fire Department is an important part of the community and not just in fulfilling their duty.

“I just think that the Brookline Fire Department is a very cohesive, caring component of Brookline,” Cripe said. “I think we add so much value; it’s an exceptional group of men and women.”

According to Cantor, between helping members of the community and responding to emergencies, being a part of the Brookline Fire Department is extremely rewarding.

“It makes a difference in my life when I make a difference in somebody else’s,” Cantor said.