Unsung Hero: Brendan Fridhandler, Orangeburg Fire Department Volunteer Firefighter

BY BARRY WARNER

Volunteer Firefighter Brendan Fridhandler is holding tools needed for firefighting. The Halligan is a multipurpose tool which is especially useful in quickly breaking through many types of locked doors. The Pike Pole is used to search for fires behind walls and ceilings and to pull items from intense heat and flames.

The Orangeburg Fire Department is committed to providing fire and rescue service to its neighbors who live, work or travel through the district. The achievement of these goals is based on continuous training, teamwork and the spirit of being a volunteer.

Brendan Fridhandler joined the Orangeburg Volunteer Fire Department about 15 years ago when  he was already an active volunteer with the South Orangetown Ambulance Corps.

“As a member of the fire department, Brendan took on extra duties to help the department and the community,” Chief Chris Jackson said. “He has been in charge of our fire prevention program for a good majority of his time here in Orangeburg.”

“As Assistant Engineer, I maintain the upkeep of the trucks and equipment, so we’re ready to roll. I also serve as the Fire Prevention Officer, where I’m in charge of community events, such as the open house, fundraising and visitation to local schools,” Fridhandler told the Rockland County times.

“In order to drive the ladder truck, I took an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC), which is a 100- hour driver training program that provides special driving skills required to operate a fire department vehicle under very demanding conditions,” Fridhandler continued. “A ladder truck carries multiple ground ladders of varying length and purpose, an aerial ladder used to reach upper floors of buildings, rescue equipment for forcible entry and extrication plus numerous power tools, such as chainsaws, ventilation fans and lighting equipment.”

On a variety of trucks, the Assistant Engineer is responsible for checking:

–        All portable radios that are set to a particular frequency and charge the batteries

–        The Thermal Imaging Camera and spare battery

–        All vehicle and portable lights, such as warning, generator and scene

–        For traffic vests, road flares and spill absorbent

–        All extinguishers, such as water, carbon dioxide, Dry Chem and Biosolve

–        For four stabilizer plates

–        Fuel in the vehicle, portable engines and fill if needed

Fire Prevention Week is a good time to review some basic fire safety facts with students across the grades. According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 4,500 Americans die and more than 30,000 are injured in fires each year. Many of those are deaths and injuries that could be prevented if people had a better understanding of fire.

In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can spiral completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It takes only minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house. Room temperature in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air can scorch the lungs. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces smoke and complete darkness. In fact, smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up oxygen that a person needs and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill.

At Fire Department Open Houses, visitors meet the firefighters, move around the fire station and learn about fire safety in the process. Kids get plastic firemen helmets as well as handouts that reinforce fire safety messages. The human interaction creates a personal experience for people and is a key to an Open House’s success.

“When I was a kid, I enjoyed seeing the red fire trucks, hearing the sirens and watching the firemen race to put out the fire,” Fridhandler said. “I joined the fire service at 14 years old and became a member of the Explorers. I was also a firefighter for 10 years with the Blauvelt Fire Department.”

“The firefighters meet at the Orangeburg Fire House for two hours every Monday night to train-train-train! The brotherhood of firefighters provides strong attachments and a sense of belonging. There are false alarms, but that should never interfere with doing your job to save lives. It feels good to make a difference, because from my ‘little spot,’ I can influence things in a positive way and help the community.”

For additional information about becoming a volunteer firefighter, contact the Fire Training Center at 845-364-8800.