By Connor Andrews
Many children dream of becoming firefighters; some actually go get the training. Western Albemarle High School students Jeff Rabin and Justin Pugh have been volunteering with the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department as well as taking courses to prepare them for fighting and putting out fires. Rabin, a junior, has been a part of the program for nine months, and Pugh, a senior, has been volunteering for 19 months.
Pugh and Rabin got real experience with fighting fires when the February brush fires on Ragged Mountain raced out of control. Pugh, who was one of the first people at the site, spent most of his time raking lines to cut off the fire’s fuel supply.
“It was intense. I just thought it was a small brush fire, but it was good training. When I got on the scene a lot of great leaders showed me what to do,” said Pugh. “First, we started by attacking the right flank, but we decided it was going to overrun us, so we retreated and raked lines to stop the fire from getting to houses.”
“I came as a relief crew,” said Rabin. “By the time we got there, the entire mountain was on fire. It was kind of intimidating, but once I got into the brush truck and was able to do stuff, it was less intimidating.”
Rabin helped with the backfires that were started to block the fire’s advance, as well as working “on nozzle.”
“The smoke inhalation sucked, but [fighting the fire] was enjoyable,” he said.
Pugh has been training in the Firefighter II class and has also completed Hazardous Material Operations (Hazmat Ops). “We learn how to control the situation and what to do if it gets out of hand. If gas gets on to a lake, for example, we know how to control it,” said Pugh. These classes also train him to perform searches and rescues. He is training at the firehouse usually three days a week. “Training never stops. Every day you learn something new about fire,” he said.
Pugh hopes to continue his volunteer work with the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department in the future. “I want to help the community as much as I can.”
Rabin has taken Firefighter I as well as Hazmat Ops and is a part of the Junior Department. “The classes are just a lot of sitting around and watching slide shows. Then there are practices where we get to go out and do the things we learn,” said Rabin.
Rabin first became interested in the program when he began to hang out at the firehouse and decided it was fun. “[It’s a] great program. I encourage anyone to come check it out.”