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UConn firefighter describes routine

Campus Correspondent

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 00:12

Ever week, 35 University of Connecticut firefighters each devote more than 42 hours to ensure the safety of the students at UConn. Whether it is a fire drill or a building inspection, the firefighters are always ready to jump into action.

“Our daily life as firefighters, it’s all about being ready for what could happen. We do a lot of proactive steps being for any type of emergency that might come in. (There is) a lot of training that takes place on our shift,” said UConn firefighter Rob Babcock.

Every Monday morning, firefighters start their shift at 7 a.m. preparing to be ready for anything.

“We come in every morning (at) 7 o’clock and check our gear, check our trucks,” said Babcock. “We get everything ready because we need to be out of the building within a couple of minutes of an emergency happening, so that’s fires, rescues, HAZMAT (hazardous materials) situations, ETS calls, confined space. A variety of emergencies we need to be ready for so that is the main priority for the morning.”

The daily tasks of a firefighter vary depending on the day and what kind of calls they receive. One day, they could be fighting a fire while another they could be saving lives as Emergency Medical Technicians.

“Each day, we have different tasks that we need to do,” said Babcock. “Mondays, we go through every vehicle, nose to tail, and make sure that everything is operational, every light works, every piece of equipment is there. Throughout the rest of the day, we do crew training, briefing from our captain to tell us what is going on campus. Any type of event that goes on campus, we really try and be proactive of what is going on campus.”

Later in the day, they go through campus to make sure they are familiar with the buildings and that those building are safe.

“We try and get out on campus and do some building inspections, it gets out into the community, and it lets the rest of the community to know that we are here. We are doing proactive steps to make sure that everything is safe in the building. Each of (the firefighters) getting to know the 400 buildings on campus, it takes a while so we are sort of tasked with knowing a majority of the buildings if we are going there for an emergency,” said Babcock.

The daily life of a firefighter is affected in many ways including life at home and job satisfaction.

“The daily tasks of our day, it affects our lives a few ways,” said Babcock. “I think that it makes us feel good. We are all here and we love helping people, that’s why we got into this job. I think that everybody could really feel that way. Another way it affects our lives (is) it somewhat affects the home life.”

Being a firefighter is a demanding job, requiring many hours and sometimes even working holidays or birthdays.

“We don’t work a set schedule. We work four-day schedule, averaging about 42 hours per week. We work holidays. We work 24 (hours a day), 365 days a year. Some days we could be working on our kid’s birthday or working on Thanksgiving so it affects a little bit of the home life. Deep down, it is worth it to us to be here and help people out,” Babcock said.

Being a UConn firefighter is somewhat different from being a firefighter in non-campus setting. It requires different tasks, deals with different age group, and “provides assistance to many different local communities around the University of Connecticut in their time of need.”

“It is unique we have so many different tasks we are needed to do whether it is going to a lab for some sort of spill or hazardous material incident or going to a cooking fire in someone’s dorm room or an EMS call. It is also unique because of the age group of kids that we are dealing with. They are between 17 and 22, so it is a unique environment,” stated Babcock.

Fire drills are a way for firefighters to not only equip students to be ready for a fire but to also show them that the fire department is available anytime.

“(Doing fire drills) is another way of us getting out there … we are just a phone call away,” said Babcock.


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