Enfield firefighters open station for community event

Liam Wardwell, 4, center, of Enfield, N.H., plays in a puddle while Erin Zagadailov and her son Charlie, 2, left, of Grantham, N.H., and Victoria Maurer and her granddaughter Maddie Moore, 1, right, both of Enfield, N.H., check out a fire engine during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Liam Wardwell, 4, center, of Enfield, N.H., plays in a puddle while Erin Zagadailov and her son Charlie, 2, left, of Grantham, N.H., and Victoria Maurer and her granddaughter Maddie Moore, 1, right, both of Enfield, N.H., check out a fire engine during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

Amelia Moore, left, and her daughter Maddie, 1, wave to Bailey, 2, as she sits in a fire engine during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Amelia Moore, left, and her daughter Maddie, 1, wave to Bailey, 2, as she sits in a fire engine during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Fire Chief Amos Plumley, 4, of Enfield, N.H., learns to roll up a fire hose during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Fire Chief Amos Plumley, 4, of Enfield, N.H., learns to roll up a fire hose during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

From left, Lt. Kim Withrow helps Beauden Schuler, 4, try on a firefighter uniform while his mother Hilary Schuler, brother Harrison Schuler, 2, and father Ben Schuler, all of Enfield, N.H., watch during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

From left, Lt. Kim Withrow helps Beauden Schuler, 4, try on a firefighter uniform while his mother Hilary Schuler, brother Harrison Schuler, 2, and father Ben Schuler, all of Enfield, N.H., watch during a community day organized by the Enfield Fire Department at Huse Park in Enfield, N.H., on Saturday, June 3, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

By RAY COUTURE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-05-2023 8:45 AM

ENFIELD — Dark clouds and a thick haze of rain did not stop the children attending the Enfield Fire Department’s Activity Day on Satur day at Huse Park from wanting yet another go with the fire extinguisher.

For many of the kids who stopped by with their parents during the event, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and included CPR and grill-safety demonstrations by members of the all-volunteer firefighting unit, it was all about blasting water out of the chrome, 3-foot tall air-pressurized water extinguishers placed under the park’s gazebo and knocking over sets of plastic cups setup on a picnic table outside.

Beauden Schuler, 4, and his 2-year-old brother Harrison bounced between playing on the fire extinguishers and an activity that involved tossing a water-flotation device out to a volunteer (that volunteer most of the time being their Dad, Ben Schuler) and “reeling” them back under the gazebo to safety.

Their mother, Hilary Schuler, said the two boys had been looking forward to EFD’s activity day for about a month. Beauden aptly wore a T-shirt with a firetruck on it.

“I grew up in Enfield so it's really nice to see that the community is still trying to involve kids and get kids excited about different things,” Hilary Schuler said. “We love fire safety and fire and we have read a lot of fire books.”

When Beauden was asked if he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up, though, he responded with a triumphant “no!” Apparently, it’s the younger Harrison who has firefighting in his future plans.

“You want to be a firefighter, right, Harrison?” his mother asked him. “You want to drive the firetruck?”

Harrison took a beat and then confirmed that was true.

Article continues after...

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Standing a few feet behind the action, answering questions from community members and periodically helping refill the APW extinguishers with water, was Enfield Fire Chief Phil Neily, who explained the purpose behind his department’s event.

“The idea behind today was just an activity day to get the kids out and have some fun, see the equipment and get used to seeing us out in the community,” Neily said. “And it's also, hopefully, good advertising for us because we always need people.”

Enfield has what’s known as a “call” fire department, Neily said, which means it doesn’t roster any full-time employees and the volunteers only get paid after responding to calls. He said they’re currently staffed with around 26 volunteers, of which Neily said he has 11 “consistent” members.

Neilly said the department is looking to hire new firefighters already certified with the state for Level-I and Level-II firefighting, but is also looking to hire for non-certified positions as well.

Neilly has been the fire chief for the town of Enfield since July, 2021. Before that, he’d been the deputy chief with the neighboring Canaan Fire Department and worked as a building and fire inspector for Enfield for 18 years. Firefighting has “changed a lot” since he first broke into the business, he said.

Now it’s not just house fires and responding to car collisions, but also ice and swift-water rescue and checking in on expired smoke alarms in apartment complexes.

“People tend to call the fire department for almost everything,” Neilly said with a chuckle. “I don’t think people know their homes the way people used to, so if they have an electrical problem they might not know how (to solve it).”

Neily said his retirement from being a building and fire inspector lasted all of three months before he returned to the field.

“Being a firefighter, it’s something that gets in your blood,” Neily said.

Ray Couture can be reached with story ideas or questions at 1994rbc@gmail.com