New Canaan firefighter from Wilton joins career ranks
New Canaan’s newest firefighter has already been on the job as a volunteer and as an emergency medical technician. Along with below, also see the story on Page A2 of the New Canaan Advertiser’s Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 print newspaper edition.
“We get a ton of training.”
Fires are fought before a spark has ignited.
As Richard William Garbus becomes a career firefighter, he not only anticipates donning the nearly 60 pounds of basic firefighter gear to rush across town to fight a blaze, he sees the importance of helping prevent a conflagration from threatening life and property in the first place.
As a volunteer firefighter with New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 since 2013, Garbus has already responded to emergency calls, taught fire prevention to the young, given smoke detectors to the elderly, answered carbon monoxide calls, even rescued animals in jeopardy.
He ranked in the top 10 of 300 applicants that took the Connecticut Firefighter Testing Consortium Test and Physical Ability Test conducted by the Connecticut Fire Academy.
Scheduled to begin his employment with the New Canaan Fire Department on Aug. 26, Garbus will spend his first 15 weeks training at the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks, Connecticut before returning to his full-time position in New Canaan. This is in addition to the training he already has.
“Will has been very active at the firehouse for the last few years and has participated in various levels of training. He will be a great addition to the department,” New Canaan Fire Chief Jack Hennessey said.
Training on what to do at the crucial time, Garbus took two 180-hour training programs in 2016 and 2017, passed a EMT certification program and learned to drive a fire truck. He has worked with the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps since November 2018, but will be resigning before he attends the academy.
“Every year I tried to take another course,” he said. “We get a ton of training.”
A lot of what he learned came from fellow firefighters.
“If I wanted to get some extra training from career firefighters, they were always willing to help any volunteers that want extra help,” Garbus said.
In response, Garbus has helped train other volunteers.
“Just sharing any knowledge, any of my past experiences,” he said
“Not many of our calls are for fires, but we are serving the public in multiple ways,” he said.
Often in the fall, when people first turn on their furnaces, the department gets several calls regarding possible carbon monoxide threats.
“Usually the dispatch will let the occupant know to exit the structure if it is a CO call. And then we use our meters to test the air, and we will usually go from there. If it is CO, then we will ventilate using our fans off the trucks,” he said.
He responded to a garage fire on Cheese Spring Road as the department deployed Engine 2 to a part of town without a hydrant.
“It showed the importance of having a dry hydrant in that location in that part of town, where the regular hydrants are not available,” he said.
“A dry hydrant is a long pipe that goes into a static water source, like a pond. It gives us the ability to get water from that pond or a water source. It makes getting water much easier in a place where a regular fire hydrant, that you would see around town, is unavailable,” he said.
Garbus also recalled that he helped rescue ducks from a storm drain and a fox out of a hole.
What does he like about being a member of the fire department?
“It is more about lifestyle of being a firefighter and the family environment that they have and being able to serve the public in anyway that I can,” he said.
Firefighters work a 24-hour shift, then have 72 hours off, he explained.
Garbus grew up in Wilton and his desire to be a firefighter was nurtured by retired Captain Karl Dolnier of the Wilton Fire Department, whom he met when he was working at the Village Market.
The New Canaan Fire Department has 24 full-time paid firefighters, a paid chief and nearly 30 volunteers. The volunteer force was chartered in 1881.