Firefighters brave frigid waters for a good cause


JUSTIN SAYLES, Daily Times Staff Reporter

JAMESTOWN -- Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days a year, they risk their lives by running into burning buildings. But for the past four New Years Days, the staff of the Hopkins Hill Fire District have been helping people by doing the opposite, running into freezing water wearing nothing but their swimsuits and their enthusiasm.

On Saturday, the fire-fighters joined 80 other brave people, taking part in the 29th Annual Penguin Plunge in Mackerel Cove in Jamestown. The event, where swimmers dive into the cold January water, raised about $70,000 for the Rhode Island Special Olympics.

This year marked the fourth time Hopkins Hill took the plunge, Chief Frank Brown Jr. said yesterday. While most people are amazed at the risk fire-fighters take on a normal day, Brown said the bravery they show taking the plunge is worth it.

"You only go in for 10 or 15 seconds and then you come out, but its all in the name of a good cause and to put this money towards the Special Olympics and those kids that really need it," Brown said, adding that the event is "definitely for the hearty soul."

As for the change in climate, Brown said that this year was easy compared to previous efforts. With water temperatures hitting nearly 45 degrees, he said that the this years plunge was a lot better than two years ago.

Hopkins Hill raised $2,200 for the Special Olympics. Brown said that charity is popular with fire and police departments around the state, but it also holds significance for the fire district.

One of the captains at the station has a sister that is involved with the Special Olympics and some of the kids that participate that have down syndrome come by the department regularly, Brown said.

"We see a lot of these kids all the time, so anything we can do to give back to them is a real good thing this time of year," Brown said.

©Kent County Daily Times 2005

Preventing the Worst

Jessica Carr , Daily Times Staff Reporter 10/08/2004

HOPKINS HILL -- In the wake of recent tragedies, two members of the Hopkins Hill Fire Department visited Hopkins Hill Elementary School yesterday afternoon to talk with some of the students about fire safety.

Preschool and kindergarten kids in Christine Nelson’s class listened as Capt. Brad Anderson and Lt. Raymond McGillivray talked about smoke detectors, escape plans, meeting places, and the protective procedures firefighters take before entering a burning building.

"When we go into a burning building we have to wear all these special pieces of equipment that help to protect us," Anderson said. "We have special boots and special pants that can withstand the heat of high temperatures."

As Anderson discussed the intricacies of traditional fire-fighter uniforms, McGillivray suited up with the 60 pounds of gear to demonstrate for the kids what they usually wear.

"We want you to be familiar with how we look when we are in our gear so if you are ever in a burning building you don’t get scared and run away," Anderson said. "Even if he looks a little scary, you never want to run away from one of us, you want to run toward us."

After discussing their job with the youngsters, Anderson and McGillivray asked the kids what their job in a fire is. Many responded correctly, according to the fire-fighters, as they replied, "to get out."

"Never ever go back into a burning house," said Rachel Barovier, a kindergarten student listening to the fire-fighter presentation.

The kids also learned never to hide, "even if you’re scared or even if you started the fire," Anderson said. They learned to test the heat of the door separating them from the burning flames by touching it with the back of their hand rather than their palm and they also learned about not trying to rescue other family members and pets. "That’s our job, as trained fire-fighters, to go back in and help -- not yours," Anderson said.

Gregory Silvia demonstrated for the others in the presentation the stop, drop and roll technique used when your clothes have caught on fire, as well as the crawl escape method for when your home is filling with flames.

"The most important thing I want you all to learn today from Mr. Anderson and Mr. McGillivray," Nelson said. "Is that they are there to help and protect you and that you should never be afraid of them because you will always be safer with them than on your own."

In addition to the lessons learned during the fire-fighter presentation, the students in Nelson’s class have also been studying an entire unit on fire prevention for the past two weeks in recognition of Fire Prevention Week. They have been reading short stories, viewing video clips and receiving tips from their teacher.

©Kent County Daily Times 2004

Santa Claus To Visit Hopkins Hill Fire District.

The Coventry Patch New Folks Follow Santa

We are pleased to announce that we've been notified that Santa Claus will make his annual appearance and tour the Hopkins Hill area riding one of the district's fire apparatus. The jolly old man is scheduled to arrive at 12 noon on December 17th and is looking forward to his visit to Coventry.

Fire District Improves Fire Insurance Rating

In mid 2001, after a vigorous and detailed inspection by the Insurance Service Organizations (ISO), Hopkins Hill Fire Department's rating was changed from Class 5 to Class 3, a significant improvement in rating and the best rating in Coventry.

Insurance companies use, among other information, ratings of local fire departments to help to determine their risk of insuring against fire in any given locality. As a result of this improved rating, fire district residents may enjoy lower insurance rates in the future.

The ratings are done every 15 to 18 years. Fire departments are visited by ISO personnel and subjected to a thorough review and the rating, from Class 1 to Class 10, a 1 being the best rating, is determined.

This new rating is the result of the ongoing and diligent efforts of all the personnel of Hopkins Hill Fire Department.