Proceeds will go back to the community
By Galen Patterson
The Arcadia Firefighter’s Association hosted its Annual Pancake Breakfast on the morning of May 5 at Fire Station 106 in Arcadia.
The event was staffed by members of the Arcadia Firefighter’s Association and a local Boy Scout Troop. 11 grills manned by 11 firefighters produced thousands of pancakes and sausage for the public as they occupied the tables and spilled over onto the concrete around the fire station.
The firefighters set up displays of vehicles and gear used throughout the department, including their brand-new, 2017 Pierce fire engine, just getting into service within the past three months. The new engine is outfitted with cutting edge technology, and plenty of headspace inside for firefighters with heavy coats and wide-brimmed helmets.
One of the most exciting moments of the morning was a demonstration in which the new engine responded to a traffic collision. The simulation included a wrecked vehicle with an imaginary person inside. What happened next captivated the audience.
The fire engine siren sounded as it arrived on scene and immediately the firefighters dismounted. One briefly assessed the damage to the vehicle up close and briefly, with the trained eye of a veteran, while another instinctively ran a hose to a safe distance and stood at-the-ready, with the nozzle aimed at the damaged vehicle.
The team soon produced a curious set of heavy duty tools known as “the jaws of life,” and began to cut away at the wreckage with semi-surgical precision. In what felt like less than a minute, the roof of the old Pontiac Grand Am was carried off the wreckage and they began working on opening the doors.
The men labored methodically as they forced the twisted steel doors open and established key points where they would cut to remove them. Once the doors were out of the way, they inserted spreading devices under the dashboard on the sides of the wreckage and forced the front 1/3 of the car to bend upward, creating maximum room to remove the simulated people inside.
The firefighters then cut through the front of the car, around the hood-locking mechanism and opened up the engine compartment.
When it was over, the newly mangled Grand Am lay next to a neatly-arranged pile of removed parts and the crowd cheered.
By this point, the temperature had reach 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the crowd was feeling it in the sunlight on the parking lot of the Westfield Mall. The firefighters had showcased their proficiency with their tools in heavy coats, overalls and helmets in rising heat, and this is not even the hottest part of their job.
“It’s a fun job, but at times it can be challenging,” said fireman Richard Oishi.
Fire Chief Michael Lang, who celebrated his birthday at the event, says that one of the reasons the Firefighter’s hold this event every year is to encourage the public to get to know their local firefighters on a human level, instead of only interacting with them on their worst day. “Most of the public, when they see us, they see us flying by,” said Chief Lang.
Another reason they hold the event is to raise money for the community fund of the Firefighter’s Association, which is the fund that gives scholarships to Arcadia High School students and allows the department to give back to the community.
As the warm morning turned into a hot afternoon, the event came to a close. Upon approaching the exit, Chief Lang casually advised this reporter to “stay cool,” an expertly crafted catch phrase for a man living a life devoted to battling flames.