HINESBURG-The Hinesburg Fire Department was officially organized in 1943 by a small group of volunteers. It was wartime, and few able bodied men were available to help fight fires. But the community responded and the tradition of a sustained firefighting effort was established.
The Town of Hinesburg has a volunteer fire department that averages 30 to 35 active members. The members are all from within the town; they are dedicated to serving the community in which they live as firefighters and first responder/EMTs.
The mission of the HFD is clear. It's mission statement says: "As first responders to fires, medical emergencies, disasters, and other public safety issues, Hinesburg Fire Department protects the lives and property of Hinesburg residents and visitors, promotes public safety through its fire prevention and health care education programs and offers timely delivery of these services to enable HFD to make significant contributions to the safety of Hinesburg and surrounding communities."
Fire Chief Al Barber expressed that the overall mission as volunteer firefighters and first responders is to assure the citizens of Hinesburg that fire, rescue, and medical services will continue to be the highest quality available in order to meet our community's expectations of the greatest level of protection and care at a reasonable expense.
The HFD covers all fire, medical, HAZMAT and heavy rescue calls for the Town of Hinesburg and the Town of St. George in southern Chittenden County. It also provides mutual aid to surrounding towns in both Chittenden and Addison counties as needed.
The HFD responds to approximately 450 calls per year according to Barber. The HFD has a first response license with Vermont that allows its medically certified members to respond to medical emergencies and car accidents to treat patients while waiting for the responding ambulance.
Hinesburg does not have its own ambulance, which makes the department's first responders a very valuable asset to the community.
This small department has numerous strengths; it's well equipped to meet most of today's needs with a highly trained membership that provide superior teamwork with Hinesburg's various municipal departments. It also as strong public support, a mutual aid system with surrounding towns. There's a spirit of strong volunteerism within Hinesburg. Members are EMS trained and the HFD provides efficient delivery of EMS.
Like all volunteer departments across the globe there are problems that Hinesburg is facing as well. There is a daytime coverage concern since the volunteers have to support themselves and their families; they need to work in the daytime. An inability to provide lifesaving actions due to lack of proper equipment for multi-story buildings, increased demand from regulatory agencies regarding the minimum training levels required, and the rapid construction in town without capital funding program dedicated to purchase of needed equipment are also concerns.
Hinesburg plans to purchase an aerial apparatus no later than 2010.
Barber said that the time commitment is approximately 6-10 hours per week.
We asked why people choose to give up so much of their time every week to do volunteer work. "I think it's simply wanting to help other folks," Barber said.
If you're interested in volunteering, contact Chief Barber at: Info@Hinesburgfd.org or call 802-482-2687.
The is the first in the Eagle's yearlong look at fire and rescue squads of Addison and Chittenden counties.