BY BARRY WARNER
This week, The Rockland County Times’ Unsung Hero column is featuring Glen Wilson, who has been a volunteer at the Suffern Hook and Ladder Company No.1 since 1973. He has served as captain twice, chief from 1990-1993 and is currently the president for the third time.
As the president, he runs the company meetings, is responsible for maintenance of the fire station building, solves issues between members, schedules social events to maintain morale plus recruits new volunteers and checks their backgrounds. In addition, Glen does driver training for the aerial ladder or Tiller Truck.
“The Tillerman maintains a rear-steering position in an elevated cabin, because the back-end is a trailer that steers independently of the front-end of the truck,” Wilson told the Rockland County Times. “The aerial ladder stretches 100 feet in length and is hydraulically powered. It’s mounted to the apparatus on a turnstile that allows it to rotate direction. The second steering wheel is used to steer the rear wheels in order to better navigate through tight traffic conditions and to more precisely position the truck for raising the ladder, The tools and ladders carried on the aerial ladder truck are most often used at fires to perform a task known as ventilation. This action involves the Tillerman climbing to the roof of a building to cut holes that allow for much of the heat and smoke inside the burning building to escape. Doing this improves conditions for firefighters inside who are trying to extinguish the fire and locate any victims.”
Primarily, the office of president includes fulfilling a leadership role by setting goals and performing administrative duties as assigned by the bylaws and presiding at meetings. To keep order, the president should be familiar with parliamentary procedure and prepare the agenda. An effective president has good judgment, active listening skills and uses firmness by staying the course and following proper procedures.
A fire station needs to be able to support both the needs of the fire department personnel and the community. It’s important that the volunteers have areas to work and relax after long shifts. Areas should be available for administrative offices, training equipment, vehicle storage, vehicle maintenance, kitchens, bathrooms, dormitories, recreational areas, hazardous materials storage and community education. When not out on a call, firefighters must constantly work at keeping the station and equipment in excellent condition. Much of the firefighter’s time is spent cleaning and scrubbing living quarters including floors, restrooms and equipment. Firefighter must be expert in getting themselves dressed in the appropriate gear and onto the emergency vehicles quickly when responding to emergency calls. The calls may cover many things, such as brush fires, structure fires, automobile accidents, life-threatening medical emergencies, non-life-threatening medical calls, false alarms and other hazardous situations.
Marketing for volunteer firefighters from the community can involve putting a sign outside the station announcing that applications will be taken and post contact information, having an official department webpage listing future activities and inviting residents to drop in and see how the department operates, showing monthly statistics plus pictures from training and actual incidents on the department Facebook page, making presentations or awards to fire personnel and residents for their outstanding service during town meetings in addition to contacting community groups and high schools to distribute fliers.
“I wouldn’t trade this for the world because I love it here in Suffern,” Wilson concluded. “In addition, I served as a police officer in the village for 27 years. My son volunteered as captain and is currently working as an FDNY firefighter. My five brothers: Glen, Jack, Frank, Larry and Bill, have volunteered at Suffern Hook and Ladder for many years. There’s always something to do or somewhere to go for the department and this is the best thing I’ve done in my life!”