This is file 87. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Russell Hoage on the Fire Department, and the Highway Department of Salisbury. Today’s date is Nov. 22, 2014. We’ll start with the family background.
JM:What is your name?
JM:Where were you born?
JM:You birth date?
RH:June 9, 1972
JM:Your parents’ names?
RH:Lawrence Hoage and Cynthia Hoage
JM:Do you have any siblings?
JM: Educational background. Did you go to Salisbury Central School?
RH:Yes I did.
JM:How about Housatonic valley Regional?
JM:When did you graduate?
JM:Tell me about the summer youth program; you were involved in that weren’t you?
RH:When I was a teen ager I worked every summer doing that which I loved. It is a good thing.
JM:What was your work site?
RH:I worked at the Grove mostly.
JM:How many summers did you do this?
RH: three I believe.
JM:Do you remember who was the Director then, was it John Mongeau?2.
JM:You liked it because…
RH:I got some money and it was something to do.
JM:It is still going on.
RH:Yeah, it is a good thing.
JM:It is a good thing. The age is 14-15ish which is…
RH:It depends on how many kids they have whether what the age is.
JM:It is good training.
JM:When did you join the Fire Department?
RH:I have to think about that. Well it was 22 years ago (1992).
JM:Did you go through the Junior Fire Fighting Program?
RH:No I did not.
JM:But you dad started that didn’t he?
RH:They had numbers back then to do it, but when I was a kid they didn’t have enough kids around to do it.
JM:How long did your father run that program?
RH:Probably 5 years, maybe
JM:Your father was in the fire department which is why you sort of…
RH:My father has been in the fire department for 44 years.
JM:Is he still active?
JM:In the fire department what do you do? Do you drive?
RH:Yeah, I am a driver.
JM:I know that there are different officers.
RH:Yeah, I just became vice president!3.
JM:Good for you.
RH:Since I saw you.
JM:What do you do as a vice president?
RH:I am in charge of the record keeping for training and things like that, filing it.
JM:How did you get that job?
RH:Well, Cory Wiggins became President and he wanted me to do Vice President, so I said OK, I’ll give you a hand with it.
JM:Good, now have to get Cory! Who is the assistant chief?
JM:When did you have your elections?
RH:The first Monday in November
JM:How long are the terms of office?
JM:How about first lieutenant?
JM:And Second Lieutenant?
JM:“My” Mike White? I’ll bet engineer is Ray Flint.
RH:Bob Flint, you must have had Bob, too.
JM: I did. I know the chief is Jason Wilson. Is the chief still Jason Wilson?
RH:Yes, it is still Jason.
JM:President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary4.
RH:Treasurer is my dad. Secretary is Maria Castagnia.
JM:I know I wanted to ask you what the jobs were of the different people. What does the captain do?
RH:He is in charge of maintaining the fire house, the cleanliness of the fire house.
JM:How about the first lieutenant?
RH:The first lieutenant and the second lieutenant are in charge of the air packs.
JM:I am assuming the engineer. ..
RH:He is in charge of the mechanicals, and equipment.
RH:That is our turn-out gear, uniforms, anything like that; anything that is worn is the quartermaster’s job
JM:You gave me a wonderful reason as to why you work for the fire department. Do you remember what it was?
RH: I wanted to keep the taxes down, and to give back to people.
JM:You come from a family that does give back, and that is a wonderful thing to do. Training-in order to become a fire fighter level #1, how many hours of training?
RH:I believe that it is around 200, now 200 hours. It has changed a lot since I joined 20 years ago. Then it was 120 hours.
JM:How about Hazmat? Do you have to be trained on that?
RH:Yeah, that is in the fire fighter #1 class now. That way we have to recertify on Hazmat once a year.
JM:How about blood and air pathogens?
RH:Once a year also. We are also doing OSHA training now once a year.
RH:Once a year
JM:Until what age?
RH:As long as you are active.
JM:As long as you are active, so you don’t have a cut off like at 65?5.
RH:No the only thing that is a cut off at 65 is that you can’t drive apparatus any more after the age of 65. That’s because of insurance.
JM:You can drive a school bus until you are 70?
RH:That’s our insurance, unless you go and take a special test but who wants to do that. When they get to that age they don’t want to do it anymore.
JM:I don’t blame them. What types of calls do you have for the fire department?
RH:Everything, automatic fire alarms, structural fires, rescues on Mt. Riga, Appalachian Trail
JM:You get everything don’t you?
JM:Were you in the fire department when the town hall burned?
RH:No, I wasn’t; I was still in high school at that time.
JM:I have been doing Peter Oliver and he was explaining about the fire and the damage and how the old town hall was set up so I thought I would ask you.
RH:We also added something to my title: I do the benefit committee and the scholarship committee at the fire house. The benefit committee is if somebody is sick, I give them a check and a get well card. I get everything if someone passes away; I do the flowers, order food. I just did it for Don Steven. We had a call on the Appalachian Trail just as we were getting ready to do a service at the fire house, so it ended up with just four of us to do the presentation because everybody else was on the mountain.
JM:You miss a lot of things- you never know. That was one of the things with Darin you can miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, all sorts of things of a family nature and personal nature. It is your job and that is what you do. We are so fortunate I mean this, to have so many of you willing to give up so much of your own family life. Do you teach fire Prevention at the school?
JM;How long have you done that?
RH:My daughter is 11, so I have done it for 6 years.
JM;Do you enjoy it?
RH:Yes, I do. I did it really just because my daughter was in the school, but no when I got doing it I enjoy it especially at Day Care. I loved it. The kids are so happy; it is a lot of fun.
JM:it is a lot of fun and they are so enthusiastic.
RH:It is just nice to see the kids smile. I was there in the Fall Festival. The fire alarm when off at St. Johns church. They burnt pancakes. I had the engine and I went up there anyway and left Cory doing the… I got back and the kids are going “Oh my God what happened?” “They burned pancakes.” They are going, “I can’t believe that somebody would burn pancakes!”
JM:That is the joy of teaching, it really is. Now have I missed anything on the fire department that you want to add?
RH:I don’t think so.
JM:I have covered the jobs and the training. Oh there was something that I wanted to ask your uniform. Bunker coat, bunker trousers, and…
RH:You have bunker gear which is your bottom, fire boots, coat that goes over the top of your bunker suspenders, helmet, and if you do interior attack, you have to wear an omax hood over your ears.
JM:The air pack that you carry in, how much does that weigh?
RH:70 pounds, well let me take that back. With our gear and everything on it is about 70 pounds.
JM:WOW! Now I am going to switch to the highway department. There are 9 people who are on the highway department. This is where you were involved with the summer youth program for working at the Grove?
JM:When you joined the highway department, who were the selectmen at that time?
RH:Bud Trotta, and Curtis and I don’t remember the other one was. (Bob Smithwick ED.) Curtis has been a selectman since I have worked there.
JM:Yes, he has been there a long time. Do you remember when you joined?
JM:How many years have you been with the highway department?
JM:Good Lord, you have a lot of service time in there! What do you do specifically? Do you have a specific job?
RH:WeIl, I do mow the lawns in the cemetery.
JM:I am going to have to talk to you because I am in charge of all the cemeteries.
RH:Everything else is just general maintenance.7.
JM:Do you have a snow route?
RH:Yes, I do the side streets in Lakeville.
JM:How many miles is that?
RH:Boy, I am not sure, maybe 10?
JM:When we were talking before you said that you worked with George Kiefer marking trees. Can you tell me a little about that?
RH:We would go out and mark the dead trees and George couldn’t do it; he couldn’t get out.
JM:He is Tree Warden, right?
RH:Yes, Mat is working on becoming it, Mat Kiefer; he is going to school for it. Because George couldn’t get out to mark trees any more so I would go with him and mark the tree.
JM:But he would tell you which trees to mark.
RH:Now he and Mat are doing it together, but for a couple of years I did it with him because he couldn’t get out any more to do it like to climb up a bank.
JM:After the trees are marked is it always the town crew that takes them down?
RH:90% of them, unless they are by the power lines and them the power company pays to take them down, the ones which are threatening the lines.
JM:Tell me a little bit about the equipment that the highway crew had. We just recommended having a weed harvester but that not your part of the forest. What do you have for equipment?
RH:We have a loader, paver, backhoe, and grader.
JM:What is a “lute”?
RH:A ”lute” is a rake that rakes asphalt.
JM:You were paving Indian Mountain Road and there were all sorts of equipment. Do you like working on the highway department?
RH:Yes, there are a variety of jobs, nothing is ever the same. Everything is seasonal, but…
JM:It changes day by day because the last time I saw you, you were clearing out catch basins. Do you work a set number of hours a week?
JM:So you don’t work weekends.8.
RH:Not unless there is a storm, but no other time.
JM:How do you get paid, a check from the Town Hall?
JM:Do you get overtime?
RH:Yes, because of the snow plowing, or thunderstorms which takes trees down.
JM:Oh that’s right, if a tree comes down in a thunderstorm somebody had to cut it up.
RH:We have to go out or close the road, either one because of the wires.
JM:What haven’t I asked you about the town crew that I should have asked?
RH:I think you have got everything there.
JM:Foreman is Don Reid, Jr. Crew leader is Rodney Webb, the mechanic is Ray Flint, and then the rest of you are drivers. Do you have additional time for civic activities? Do you do anything else?
RH:I have been asked. Curtis has asked me but I told him that I do enough.
JM:Yes, you do. Well, you’ve got a family. You have a young daughter and it is important that you be home and have some time with your family. It is very important. I thank you very much for this Russell. I appreciate it; thank you and keep plowing the roads!