Having the fastest volunteer fire company in the nation is one thing. But what good are firefighters if they get to a fire and don't know how to put it out?
The Susquehanna Hose Company isn't just fast. They're fast, and they're prepared.
Havre de Grace's volunteer fire department logged 12,136 hours of training in 2011—more than 505 days worth of training.
Hurst said the company has averaged about 7,000 hours of annual training over the last five years.
At last summer's fire convention in Ocean City, the station awarded with the top amount of training hours logged approximately 4,000, Hurst said. The Hose Company will apply for that recognition this summer.
Hurst said there are approximately 120 volunteers active with the Susquehanna Hose Company, which has five houses in Havre de Grace. The Firefighter I class is 120 hours. Hurst said all members have completed a three-class series of mandated FEMA courses through the Harford County Fire Study.
He said 40 members are registered for a spring class this semester.
"We had 52 members take a University of Maryland fire rescue course, a college-level course," Hurst said. "Of those 52 members, some took multiple courses throughout the 12 months."
Volunteers also take online classes, participate in Tuesday night training drills at the five fire houses, and complete company-wide drills every month. Certain units, such as the dive team and swift water rescue team, require specialized training.
Hurst said the level of training is important, but it's not imperative to be a member of the Susquehanna Hose Company.
"We have very few fires during the year where you have to send people into a burning building," Hurst said. "We do CPR, we cut people out of cars, we do dive calls, swift water calls. But when a building is on fire, there are several things we need people to do—drive a truck, set up ladders, hook hoses to hydrants. There's more of that stuff to do than going in and fighting a fire. Fighting a fire in Havre de Grace is actually a small percentage of what we do. So those people that don't take those classes right away, they serve a vital role to us."
Hurst credited Deputy Chief Bobby Goll and the training committee with setting up drills and enrolling members in classes.
Ultimately, though, Hurst gave credit to all the volunteers in the Susquehanna Hose Company for the commitment to reaching 12,136 training hours.
"It's a huge commitment to make, especially when you have a family," Hurst said.