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Why Go to Fire School?

August 4, 2022

Montgomery Volunteer Fire Company No. 2 has three trainees in fire school this summer: Neil Advant, 18, Dev Hudson, 18, and Branden Quirinale, 19.

Good buds and Fire Co. 2’s current fire school trainees from left: Neil Advant, Branden Quirinale, and Dev Hudson.

They are all in an accelerated 6-week course at Somerset County’s training academy. They all started at 16 as Junior Firefighters —active members with restrictions in participation. Upon completing this course, they will become full firefighters, capable of entering burning structures.

Neil Advant was drawn to MTVFC2 when a close friend got involved. His first call as a trainee was a natural gas leak. He saw the rapid readiness of the responders and was hooked. Like most junior firefighters, Neil had no previous experience but none was necessary. All training is provided by the fire company. His family was won over by the company’s serious focus on firefighter health and safety. “Regular drills keep us prepared. We hold ourselves to the highest standard, equipped with the knowledge to be there for our community,” Neil said.

In fire school, Neil is enjoying working the hoses. The days are long and hot, but he loves the challenge. “Being in the heat of the moment, and putting out the fire is a rush for me,” Neil said. He plans on staying with the company at least through college. “I want to stay a firefighter for the rest of my life,” Neil concluded.

Dev Hudson was always fascinated by his grandpa’s stories about his fire company back in India, where members were like family and had each other’s backs. Dev has found this to be true at MTVFC2 too. Dev responded to the recent house fire on Regents Court. He was able to play a role by stretching out or rolling up hose, and changing out air bottles. He watched those on the tower truck make an aerial attack on the fire. “All of these experiences add to my skills,” Dev related. Dev’s favorite fire school lecture is fire behavior and construction. “I find the science behind fire fascinating. Learning about the components of a building and fire ratings will allow me to approach potential fires with optimal attack strategies,” he said. Dev’s favorite drills have been on ventilation and searching. He explained: “I learned efficiency and how to extend my search radius with side crawls and using tools such as saws.”

Dev’s family supported his decision to go to fire school and are proud to see him giving back to his community. “My parents say ‘If you truly enjoy doing something, it shouldn’t matter - rain, snow, sleet, you should show that same passion.’” Dev plans to study biomedical engineering and work as a doctor in underserved areas of the world. “Firefighting is definitely a hard job, but your fire department gets you ready for it. Come to the station to learn and you’ll always take back something new,” Dev concluded.

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Branden Quirinale has lived in Montgomery all his life. His neighbor, Laurin Long, is a MTVFC2 member, and encouraged him to join. In fact, both of Branden’s parents, John and Sandy, joined with him and became fully trained active firefighters. Branden has been on over 400 calls. One was a sizable brush fire where Branden manned the hose line off of the back of the brush truck. “Even as a probationary firefighter, you are able to make a big difference,” Branden noted. His favorite drill at fire school is going “on air” into the buildings, finding the fire, and putting it out. Company Two also has a maze training room, where trainees navigate obstacles in full gear and air masks/tanks, using tools to locate and assist a ‘victim’.

Unlike his classmates, Branden has other first responder experience. He is a member of Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, and is a trained emergency medical technician (EMT). Branden aspires to work as a professional paid firefighter someday. Branden encourages others to take the plunge, “Go for it - it’s an incredible opportunity to help others and you will get way more out of it than you give, even though you give a lot!”

Also, a big congratulations to our three recent fire school graduates: Kyle Hopkins, Andre Soumeillant, and Daniela Spera.

Anyone wanting more information is invited to stop by the firehouse on any Wednesday evening at 7 pm or visit Fire Station 46 is located at 529 Route 518.


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