Members of Dawson FIRST gather outside Station 2 after graduation July 5. Earlier that same day, the group experienced its first call to support firefights at a structure fire that claimed three homes. Photo by Denise Ray
Dawson FIRST, first of its kind
When a group of community volunteers gathered last fall, they had no idea their first call would come before program graduation.
Dawson FIRST (Fast Incident Response Support Team) is a small group of community volunteers who provide firefighter support during county emergencies.
The FIRST volunteers were called to the scene of the early morning July 5 fire at Burt’s Crossing where they put their nearly year-long FEMA, GEMA and CERT training to use, providing behind-the-scene assistance to Dawson County firefighters.
By rolling hoses and changing air packs, the group was able to save valuable firefighter time in getting the fire under control. They also kept personnel hydrated with bottles of water and oranges.
“That was a difficult scene with a fast-moving, wind-driven fire,” Dawson County Deputy Fire Chief Danny Speaks said. “It was a difficult night.”
Under the direction of Station 2 Firefighter/EMT Dennis Fedoruk and Dennis LaGatta, Station 8 Support Firefighter/EMT, the core group ironically re-convened later that evening for their graduation ceremony.
Speaks was quick to praise their efforts during the pre-dawn blaze.
“You would not believe the amount of compliments from the guys on scene who said [to me] thank you for calling them [Dawson First] up,” he shared. “You guys got the call, came up and went above and beyond, so thank you.”
Since October 2017, the group has committed over 1,200 hours of training in community emergency response, support firefighter skills and emergency medical response capabilities, according to Fedoruk.