Q: What is your mission?
A: “The Delaware State Fire School is mandated under the Delaware Code to provide training to the emergency services as well as the public that protect the citizens of Delaware. Very unique to Delaware is that any firefighter in the state of Delaware has training opportunities within 30 minutes of their home. You find that nowhere else in the United States.”
Q: Are all firefighters mandated to go through training at one of these facilities?
A: “That is a local decision. The local fire departments have their own requirements as to what they’re going to require in the way of training. However, they are fairly similar in that they expect a member that joins to have a certain level of training within a certain period of time.”
Q: What types of training take place here?
A: “When they come to be trained by us, it is actual hands-on experience putting out fires. When they do structural firefighting, and they go in to attack a simulated kitchen fire, everyone in the group is on the nozzle at some point to extinguish that fire. You don’t watch a PowerPoint slide that says, ‘The water should do this or that.’ No, they’re actually feeling the heat. They’re in the smoke, doing it.”
Q: How hard is it to find volunteers?
A: “It’s difficult nowadays to obtain volunteers because everyone is so busy. The structure of the family itself is entirely different than in the 1960s. People are working two jobs, people are tied up with all kinds of activities outside of the home and it’s hard to find people to commit.”
Q: What would you say to someone considering joining?
A: “There’s a job for everyone. A real success story is this: we took a gentlemen into the company who was about 50. He came in and was very enthusiastic and wanted to help and he went to fire school, took his basic skills, took fire training and then came to us and said, ‘This isn’t for me. I am 50 years old going in with an air tank on my back. It’s just not for me.’ However, he is probably one of the most-respected chaplains in the fire service in the state of Delaware, and also works with the fire police and helps administratively. So even though he doesn’t want to be in a smoking building, he is a tremendous asset to our fire department. And that man is one Mr. Jimmy Hoppa from WBOC.”
Q: What is one thing you want our readers to know?
A: “I would like people to be more aware of community risk reduction; what it takes to make your community safer. Do a home inspection. Make sure your home is in order. Make sure you check smoke alarms. Give some thought if you’re building a new home to add residential sprinklers. It reduces your chances of dying in a fire by 90 percent if you have a residential sprinkler system and working fire alarms. That’s what the community can do to help us — and to get the word out there for volunteers.” Lowe then added, “The citizens of Delaware, I feel, are unaware of the status of emergency services, especially the fire services in Delaware, and how fortunate they are to be living in a situation where they are as protected as they are.”