On May 5, 2006, our team interviewed Mr. Doug Vorp, the Deputy Chief of the Plainsboro Fire Company.
Mr. Vorp has been fighting fires and serving his community for 13 years. He rose through the ranks, starting as a firefighter, to Deputy Chief. He has lived in Plainsboro, New Jersey, United States for the bulk of his life.
As Deputy Chief, he is second-in-command when it comes to firefighting operations. He does whatever is necessary in his Department to serve his community, often arriving as the first-responder to any fire or rescue operation. In the absence of the Chief, he serves as the command officer at fire scenes. When the Chief is present, he assists him in controlling the problem at hand. Mr. Vorp is also the Training Officer for the Department. He oversees the training of new firefighters and existing members. Most of the training is done at local fire academies. All firefighters are required to take a Weapons of Mass Destruction class.
In the WMD class, he has learned how to respond to terrorist attacks. According to the Plainsboro Fire Company's website, the Deparment specializes in, among other things, response to a "terrorist attack." Most of the firefighters at the Plainsboro Fire Company, including Mr. Vorp, are volunteers and are not remunerated for their services.
"I'm second-in-command of firegrounds operations... I kind of do whatever is needed, as needed, here in the Department. I help to fill in wherever. In the Chief's absence, I serve as the command officer at fire scenes." - listen
"I've taken quite a few actually... They talk about awareness of the scene, looking at the big picture, don't be so quick to rush into things. They talk about the specifics of various situations, depending what it is, whether its chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiation, those kinds of things, and the issues that are associated with each one of those." - listen
"...Each one of those incidents are kind of difficult to give generals. Biological agents-It may take up to 72 hours to know that it's actually a biological attack, depending on the agent that's being released. If there is no onebody that is directly initially willing to accept responsibility for the incident, you may or may not know what's going on with it. It may just be a case that you have several people that are sick. Those are the kinds of things that you look for. A responder is looking for multiple patients with like symptoms... In a nucelar attack, obviously there would be widespread devastation from the detonation of a nuclear device. Radiation, that's not something that's going to be readily detected..." - listen
"Across the board if you're equipped to handle that, you suit up and go into the scene and try to mitigate whatever the incident is. The number one priority is life safety-ours and then the civilians that are affected. Then we look at property conservation and incident mitigation..." - listen
"It really depends on the incident. Locally, it's going to be whatever local resources initially respond, then county resources, then state resources, and then assets from the federal government. In New Jersey, it's that kind of tiered of approach." - listen
"Initial life safety, that's our primary focus... Ourselves, personally, we are not fully equipped and trained to handle responses to chemical and biological agents. We don't carry all the suits and the test equipment and things like that, so we pretty much would secure the area, request assistance, call for a county HAZMAT team. County HAZMAT team would come out, follow their protocols to respond to the incident and then we'd go from there." - listen
"Yes, they are... The mandatory [WMD] program is post-9/11... Before it was referred to as terrorism, pretty much, and that kind of covered it all." - listen
"...Becoming a firefighter is different depending on the area that you go to... For Plainsboro you could stop in, fill out an application. An interview would be scheduled. After the interview, you attend a meeting, are sent for a medical physical. Upon successful completion of the medical physical, then we'll make arrangements to enroll you in an academy into a basic firefighting class." - listen
"If there is some kind of definite agent released and somebody's claimed responsibility for it, whatever it is, that would change our protocol versus trying to go in and figure out what it is. If it was a scene where we're just being called to the school because there was a strange odor and a lot of kids are getting sick, then that becomes a little different. We go in and try to investigate, find out what's going on, and then call for the appropriate resources to come help us." - listen