These dedicated firefighters are in town to hone skills, take classes and practice survival training at the Old Forge Firefighters’ Drill School.
According to Old Forge District Fire Commissioner Anthony Tormey the Firefighters’ Drill School first started in 1966 when members of the Brighton Fire Department in Rochester got together and wanted to host the event in Old Forge since many of their members vacationed in the area. The Drill School took off and has continued to grow, adding and alternating classes and demonstrations based on popular demand.
“The public is welcome to watch from a safe distance. There are vehicle extraction demonstrations as well as firefighters putting out live [controlled] fires. There are vendors at the Old Forge Fire Department with trucks and other safety equipment. We take over downtown,” says Tormey. “We start planning the next event as soon as this one is over.”
The three day event, September 18-20, has participants coming from all over New York as well as some neighboring states. Tormey explains that the Firefighters’ Drill School is open to all firefighters and their departments. Individuals as well as whole stations have come to partake in the various safety classes or become certified.
“This year we have Candice McDonald speaking,” says Tormey. “We are very excited to have her as our keynote speaker.”
McDonald is an EMT, firefighter, and author as well as being employed by NASA’s Office of Protective Services.
Though the drills and classes are only available for the firefighters, the public is encouraged to stop by the fire hall any time to check out the new trucks and other safety vendors during the day or listen to the live music in the evening.
“This year we have about 40 units participating in Saturday’s parade,” says Tormey. “I don’t think there are many events like this one in the rest of New York State.”