Two Weeks With the Flame Fighters
Rockville, MD | 2013
The purpose of this project was to expose a group of selfless volunteer firefighters who respond to fires in areas of Rockville, MD that would be far to reach from other ordinarily staffed fire stations. You can also read the article about my “Two Weeks with the Flame Fighters” to learn more about the volunteers, their motivations and experiences on the job.
A special thanks to the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department for trusting me to ride along to calls with them for the duration of this project. The images were made on a Canon XSI digital camera.
Rockville Volunteer Fire Dept. firefighters disembark from the tower ladder engine as they respond to a call from the office of CS Consulting Engineers Inc. on Piccard Drive. Those inside the office building reported smoke was coming from the elevators. All precautions were taken and the building was given an “all-clear” after 40 minutes of inspection.
Scott Cushing listens intently as the emergency dispatcher details information about an individual experiencing chest pain nearby. Often times a rescue engine is dispatched on calls where there may not be a threat of fire. Cushing’s vehicle was closer to the emergency and arrived at the site before the ambulance.
Volunteer firefighter Larry Wang, 23, of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Dept. assesses the scene of a fire that broke out a few hours prior and was extinguished by his firefighting comrades at Station 3. Responding to emergency situations can be thrilling, but these moments of reflection during the aftermath of a tragedy are what make volunteers like Wang keep doing their job. There is gratification in quelling a victim’s feelings of fear and helping expedite the physical and emotional healing process.
Fire Officer Rob Foley (left) of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Dept. listens intently to a woman describe the items she hopes to salvage from the wreckage that was once her home. The team successfully recovered her mother’s passport, insurance card and a few family photos, among other small items from the ashes.
These ruins are all that remain of this Rockville house, located at 3015 Horners St. Around 4 p.m., the home was engulfed in flames. Station 3 of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to the call, fought the fire and no injuries or fatalities resulted. The incident was labeled as “suspected arson” and will be further investigated.
Fire Rescue Capt. Christopher Neary (center) scans a chart in the firehouse common room that lists the riding assignments for personnel scheduled for the upcoming shift. Volunteers Scott Cushing (left) and Larry Wang (right) converse about that night’s assignments as they wait to check the board.
After commuting for two hours in traffic from her job in downtown Washington, D.C., Saba Tabriz, 22, sits on the back of a rescue engine in her office attire before changing into proper firefighting gear for her night shift. Most volunteers lead lives separate from the firehouse, striking a delicate balance between their time serving the RVFD and paid career obligations.
A Thanksgiving-inspired dinner, sponsored by the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department’s Auxiliary Board, was held a week before the holiday in the firehouse common room. Members of the Auxiliary visit the station about once a month with meals and other firehouse contributions. Just as they piled their plates high with fried chicken and pumpkin pie, the alarm rang and they rushed out to a call.
Pictured here is one of three fire rescue engines parked at the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department’s headquarters on Hungerford Dr. in downtown Rockville, MD. The station also houses a tower ladder engine, two ambulances, a medic truck and several staff vehicles.
A common sight of slippers and clogs scattering the floor of the firehouse garage after the truck pulls away to a call. The volunteers slip off their shoes and slide into have their gear when the alarm sounds.
A hundred or more lockers line the interior of Station 3’s firehouse garage. These compartments reveal the volunteer and career firefighters’ respective dog tags, flashlights, helmets and fire retardant coats hanging in anticipation of the next call. On the back of each coat, the department name and the individual’s surname are printed in a reflective fabric.
All in a day’s work for the RFVD.