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Eagle’s Finest

By Tobe Brockner

Photography by Marshall Nichols 

The grinding and crunching of metal was deafening. As the Jaws of Life machine was switched off, the door to the car fell away.

“And that’s how you cut a door off a car,” said the training representative from LN Curtis & Sons, a regionally-based training firm that provides fire, police, and EMT training across the Pacific Northwest.

“Of course there’s more to cutting off a door than just walking up to it and hacking away,” Eagle Fire Department’s Division Chief of Training, Bill Stone, explained. “That’s why we put such a heavy emphasis on training.”

Each October, the Eagle Fire Department comes together for an intensive, day-long training session. The training focuses mainly on life-saving extrication processes. The department has around 40 full-time, paid firefighters with another 20 or so volunteers that man the three stations in the community. Each one of those men and women are required to be trained in the latest extrication methods.

“You have to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of many. The sheer variety of tasks we are called on to do is quite extensive.”

“When you happen upon a severe accident, sometimes you literally only have minutes to save someone’s life,” firefighter Theron Hudson said. “The training we go through prepares us for those types of situations.”

The state of Idaho mandates just a few hours of training per year and much of that is online. Chief Stone and his team go well above and beyond that minimum.

As he tells it, “You have to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of many. The sheer variety of tasks we are called on to do is quite extensive.”

I asked him and Captain Hudson about some of their more bizarre calls. “Well, when people think about firefighters they think about putting out fires,” Hudson says, “but it is so much more than that.”

“How do you train for getting a badger out of someone’s garage or getting a deer that is trapped on a frozen lake off of there?” he muses. “I have seen that and more. From helping a senior citizen shovel snow off their back porch to helping someone get their Christmas tree inside after we’ve been called in to check their smoke detectors, we are here to help the community in any way that we can.”

The Eagle Fire Department is heavily involved in the community in other, more visible ways as well. They participate in several annual

events and even host a few of their own (see sidebar). Whether it’s Eagle Fun Days or having lunch with elementary school kids, Eagle firefighters relish giving their all to this community we call home.

Fortunately, our little community is fairly safe and major catastrophes are few. That doesn’t deter Chief Stone from doing the work of training.