Where is the fire?

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    VERNON-McAfee Fire Department hosted its Eighth Annual Open House on Saturday, offering the community it serves a hands on opportunity to see the workings of their firehouse. "We open the doors to the community and let them see the equipment that is basically theirs," said Kelly Courtright, firefighter and head of the Fire Prevention Program. "The kids can take a ride on the fire trucks and get dressed up in all of the firefighter clothes. We show fire prevention videos for the kids. It's a fun day for the whole family," she added. While the main objective of the Open House was to offer the community a chance to see the firehouse and meet the members of the Fire Department in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, there was also the hope that it would perhaps attract some new members. "We are always looking for new members," said Ray Devlin a 19-year-old firefighter who is attending Sussex County Community College, majoring in Arson Investigation. "I hope to eventually work for tNew Jersey Division of Fire Safety and volunteering here gives me valuable experience." McAfee Fire Department has 25 members and four fire trucks and responds to an average of 200 calls a year. "We are dispatched by Vernon Police Department," explained Courtright. "We are on call 24-7, so we have a response time of within ten minutes of being called out." Structure fires or house fires account for only a small number of the calls that the McAfee Fire Department gets. The firefighters are called more regularly in rescue situations such as serious auto accidents where the Jaws of Life may have to be used. "Car fires seem to be the most common call," said Devlin. "The worst one was the recent one at the Getty Station across the street from us. It was so dangerous because of its proximity to the fuel tanks, it took us a while to get it out," he added. To become a "Firefighter One," a volunteer must be at least 18 years old and complete 84 hours of training, which takes place two nights a week for six months at The Sussex County Fire Academy in Frankford. For anyone younger who is interested in volunteering, there is a Junior Firefighter for those between the ages of 16 and 18. The juniors can go out on calls and help with the equipment but are not allowed to fight fires.