"Lots of ribbin' and kiddin' goes on here," said deputy fire chief David Pendleton of the loooooong dining table upstairs at the Portland Fire Department's Bramhall Station. While participants in the League of Young Voters' Portland 101 program toured the city's largest station, three firefighters prepped dinner — which smelled delicious; cooking duties rotate weekly. Lining the kitchen and common areas were small quarters akin to dorm rooms and with similar institutional furnishings. We peeked into a cozy room with comfy recliners, where members watch TV during the 24-hour shifts. And yes, I got to watch one of the guys slide down the pole.
While this PFD experience was less exhilarating than my hands-on glimpse at firefighter training earlier this year (see "Fighting Fire with Smokescreens," by Deirdre Fulton, July 1), it was interesting to learn that medical calls vastly outweigh fire calls about 80 percent to 20 percent, and that 20 recruits are currently going through the fire academy. With a $1 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant expected to fund an additional 12 positions for the department's Heavy Rescue Unit in 2012, and about 11 vacancies expected next year due to retirement, the 232-member PFD is looking for new faces to join its ranks.
Portland 101-ers were curious about how many women are in the PFD (eight); who shovels out the city's 1500ish fire hydrants after a big snowstorm (the firefighters do); and whether members are assigned to a specific station or move around (after five years, you can apply for a permanent place; before that, you're part of "the pool"). With our stomachs growling, we left the station — but a few of us wished we could stick around for supper.
: This Just In
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