A large fire has severely damaged a historic multi-use building in the center of New Hartford known as the New Hartford House on Tuesday morning. At least 100 firefighters responded to the fire. A large portion of those firefighters were volunteer firefighters.
Burlington Volunteer Fire Department announced that one of the firefighters suffered a medical emergency and was rushed to a nearby hospital in Farmington. According to fire officials on scene, the firefighter collapsed while on scene. The firefighter is a 26-year-old man, according to Burlington Volunteer Fire Department.
In a split second, volunteer firefighters could get called away from their families and full-time jobs to respond to a fire.
Robert Diorio is the fire chief for Southend Volunteer Fire in New Hartford and has served as a volunteer firefighter for 23 years. The role these departments play during a fire is critical according to Diorio.
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"We have to find a water source because unlike cities we don't always have hydrants every 100 feet," said Diorio. "We also rely on cooperation with other fire departments to ensure we have enough manpower to knock down a fire like the one today."
Several volunteer departments including Avon and Burlington's Fire Department responded with the same mission to put out the flames and save anyone who may still be inside.
"We have a passion to help people and sometimes it requires us to leave our families and stop what we're doing to run towards the fire," said Diorio. "We train for moments like this all the time and our training is intense."
The Burlington Fire Department tells NBC Connecticut that the 26-year-old's family is with him at the hospital and is asking for the public to keep the firefighter and the department in their thoughts and prayers.