The more elected officials are aware of what it takes to be a firefighter, the better the bond between a town’s fire department and its local government.
That’s the idea behind Fire Ops 101, an annual event that literally puts town officials in the shoes of a firefighter.
“The more they understand where the money goes to and why it goes there ... the better it educates them to spend tax dollars wisely,” said Capt. Mike Camperlengo, a safety official in the Stratford Fire Department.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, Councilmen (D-6) and (R-5) will throw their ties aside and put on a pair of firefighter boots as they join about a dozen Stratford firefighters participating in this year’s Fire Ops 101. The event will be held at Fairfield Regional Fire Training Center and run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Two of the simulated emergency demonstrations will be a live fire search and rescue and a car extrication, said Camperlengo. What won’t be simulated during the live fire demo, he said, with a knowing smile (I’ll be taking part in the day’s festivities, too), is the sweat that’ll be dripping within the gear.
“No matter what you’re doing, you’re going to be sweating,” Camperlengo said.
But the sweat tells the story of the day-to-day life of a firefighter, and that is the message Camperlengo hopes elected officials will take away from the weekend event.
“The fire department is an extremely important part of town,” he said. “We are called upon to come up with solutions in unfavorable situations."
Camperlengo said although Stratford ranks near the top in the state in the most structure fire calls per year, the fire department is "always fighting for budget dollars."
The safety official said Mayor John A. Harkins and Councilwoman Stephanie Philips (D-2) have attended the event in the past. Fairfield firefighters will join members of the Stratford Fire Department at the weekend fire demonstration.
Check back on Monday for a firsthand account of this year's Fire Ops 101.
What do you think of the relationship between Stratford town officials and the fire department? Tell us in the comments section below.