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PRESS RELEASE: Recent Fire Illustrates Need for Constant Training

Laura Phillips Ward
WardComm Public Relations, LLC
860.573.4809 |

Avon Volunteer Fire Department Commends a Job Well Done

August 5, 2014 | Avon, CT – Those who were not in the vicinity of the Avonwood Apartment Complex Monday afternoon, July 14, and didn’t catch a quick status update on the Avon Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page, likely had no idea the AVFD’s volunteers were in the midst of a very challenging situation. There wasn’t much about the incident on television or in newspapers and, typically, the AVFD prefers it that way, never wanting to exploit personal loss for glory. However, even though fire personnel did a great job controlling and extinguishing the flames, it was exactly the kind of situation that underscores the Department’s need for additional and continual training and the funds to make that training possible.

“Our volunteers and those from the mutual aid companies who assisted us did an incredible job,” says AVFD Chief Michael Trick. “For several of our firefighters, this was the first time they’ve had to conduct a mass evacuation of a building complex swiftly and safely while other crews endured very heavy smoke conditions to locate and extinguish the flames. And, while we are fortunate to live in a town where we don’t see this type of fire activity very often, gaining this type of tactical experience on an active scene is most certainly not the method of training we prefer.”

Just after 2:00 p.m. on Monday, July 14, 2014, the fire department was dispatched to 47 Avonwood Road for an activated fire alarm. Within minutes, the dispatch center received numerous 911 calls for smoke seen in the building. With that information, Incident Commander Assistant Chief Tom Kline requested assistance from area fire departments due to the size of the building and the number of possible occupants of the building.

Upon arrival at the scene, firefighters saw heavy smoke billowing from the basement of the building – some quickly evacuated people and pets from all 60 apartment units while others prepared to locate and extinguish the fire. At the height of the incident, firefighters from Simsbury, Farmington, East Farms, Canton, Burlington, Lost Acres, and the UCONN Health Center assisted on scene. Additional units from Suffield, East Granby, Windsor Locks, Windsor, and Bloomfield provided coverage for any additional calls for service that occurred while local units were working on scene.

“It takes a large number of personnel to control a situation in a large building such as this,” says Assistant Chief Kline. “If there were any other incidents that occurred at the same time as the fire at Avonwood, Avon, Canton, and Simsbury were covered by mutual aid units standing by in Avon.”

“It was a difficult fire to get to in a large basement with little ventilation and tremendous heat,” says Avon Fire Marshal Jamie DiPace. “Even though fire crews prevented the flames from spreading beyond the basement, there was a lot of smoke damage and several families have been displaced temporarily.”

AVFD personnel remained on scene until nearly 9:00 p.m. watching for hotspots and escorting residents to their homes to retrieve belongings. The Fire Marshal’s office was present to participate in the investigation until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, motorists, cyclists, runners, and pedestrians passing by the AVFD Company 3 fire house on West Avon Road over the past couple of weeks have likely noticed a new sign. Created by Avon Middle School art teacher Elaine Lefebvre, the sign, showing a firefighter holding a ladder, illustrates how much money the AVFD has raised in support of its commitment to the live fire training facility to be built in Farmington.

“We need a total of $1 million to make this facility a reality,” says DiPace, who is also the AVFD fundraising co-chair. “Avon’s commitment is $500,000. So far, both Avon and Farmington have raised about $580,000. It’s our hope that people will see the ladder and realize they have the ability help us climb to the top – every penny counts.”

A portion of the money raised through the AVFD’s annual appeal letter which was mailed out earlier this year will go toward the training facility. For those who may not want to simply write a check or submit a credit card donation through the AVFD website, the Department is planning fundraising events. Next is the AVFD’s 1st Annual Golf Tournament on Monday August 11, 2014. Sponsors and golfers are still needed. Other events are being planned for late summer/early fall.

About Fire Training

When it comes to fire training, there’s no such thing as enough. As volunteers who train to the level of career firefighter, members of the AVFD are required to recertify at least annually. The AVFD is partnering with the Town of Farmington Fire Department to build a new live fire training facility, allowing members to retain the proficiency of their special skills. AVFD members will be able to practice and improve their skills in a realistic setting with a more reasonable time commitment, learning how to better protect themselves so they can better protect the residents of Avon and their property.

About the AVFD

Incorporated in 1943, the Avon Volunteer Fire Department proudly protects more than 18,000 people living in the 22.6 square mile area that makes up the Town of Avon. The Department’s mission is to provide fire suppression and prevention, life safety and rescue support, as well as other community support to the citizens of the Town of Avon. In addition, the Department provides mutual aid support to those surrounding communities that, in time of need, may request such assistance.

Staffed entirely by volunteers, the Avon Volunteer Fire Department prides itself on the selflessness and dedication of its members – firefighters, fire police, administrative members, Explorers, active veterans, and senior veterans, all of whom play a vital role in the safety of Avon. The Department operates six companies and 15 pieces of apparatus, including a brush truck, ladder truck, tanker, rescue vehicle, boat, and pumpers. Four stations are located throughout Town – Company 1 on Darling Drive, Company 2 on Secret Lake Road, Company 3 on West Avon Road, and Company 4 on Huckleberry Hill Road. Anyone interested in learning more about the AVFD should call the Avon Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) at 677-2644, visit, connect on Facebook at AvonVFD, or stop by the Company 1 firehouse located at 25 Darling Drive any Monday evening after 7:00.

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