Unseen Dangers, Clear Dedication

By Matt Markham

April 29, 2011 Updated Apr 29, 2011 at 6:26 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Fires break out in a flash, and must be put out just as quickly. That is one of the most important lessons trainees to the Binghamton and Cortland departments have learned in their fourteen-week class.

In the final report of a special three-part series, Action News shows the unseen dangers firefighters face and their clearly visible dedication.

"We did gas shut offs and gas emergencies such as fires on a meter, how to properly attack it and shut it down, without getting hurt as a firefighter," said Joshua Graupman of Binghamton.

Natural gas and Carbon dioxide leaks can cause tremendous disasters and intense flames. NYSEG opens its training facility for the fire academy recruits to learn "natural gas related stuff, also a wire down over a vehicle, a natural gas fire on a gas meter," said Lenny Perfetti of NYSEG.

The heat is so intense nearby buildings not on fire even need to be protected.

"As you can see, we were putting water on the exposures of the small buildings to keep them from melting, basically, because it's vinyl siding," Graupman said.

It's part of the intense work these eight men have done to become firefighters. Many see this as their chance to give back.

"It's time for a career change, where I am in age, and I always like to help people," said Stephen Zelsnack. "It seemed like a good career choice, and I took a chance."

"I'm one of the few here in our class that has no volunteer experience. So everything is fresh to me," said Jesse D'Onofrio. "I don't have any family in the department ... and the more I thought about it I said, this would be a great thing to do."

"It's taken a lot of training to hone our skills so we can do it like second nature," said Nick Griswold. "We've been excited to do this."

"I've wanted to be a firefighter for a long time," said Brian Hrebin. "I've been in construction. I've worked on carpentry and masonry. I've been trying to get in to the fire department since i graduated from college, and that's what I knew I wanted to do before."

People from different backgrounds, all with the same training, to fight the same fire to keep you safe.

The eight trainees have now begun their work at the Binghamton and Cortland city departments. Their graduation from the academy was April 22.