Smoky challenge

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Firefighters from Laconia and Gilford train at the former McDurgin building on Union Avenue in Laconia on Friday. The building is scheduled for demolition, so it provided a rare opportunity for training. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Firefighters perfect skills in doomed building


LACONIA — One of the most important skills a firefighter can have is the ability to rescue a fellow crew member who is overcome during a blaze.

That's just what a dozen Laconia and Gilford firemen were doing Friday inside an aging commercial building set for demolition.

During a break in the training at 570 Union Ave., Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson addressed the troops.

“It could be you,” he said, pointing at a firefighter.

“It could be you,” he told another. “And that's the way you think about it: You're rescuing yourself. And the better you are at it, the quicker you're going to get a firefighter out. It could be a cardiac arrest. It could be he ran out of air. It could be a ceiling collapsed on him. We all know there are multiple reasons a firefighter could get hurt in a burning building.”

Firefighters are all equipped with a personal safety rope, but those are saved for use only in true emergency situations.

In training, Erickson joined his men to simulate a rescue in which a firefighter had to be hauled from a cellar, using a ladder, a stretcher and ropes. In place of the injured firefighter was a 175-pound dummy.

In another simulation, firefighters pretended there was a cellar fire in which they did not have direct access to the cellar.

Their solution was to use power equipment to cut a triangular-shaped hole in the first floor so that a special cellar nozzle attached to a fire hose could be deployed. Vision was obscured with simulated smoke.

The task wasn't easy. Floor joists and vents initially got in the way, and everything is harder when visibility is impaired.

Such a fire isn't common.

“Those are some unusual tactics we don't use a lot, so that's why we train with them,” said Erickson, his white helmet discolored from the many fires he has fought.

Firefighting is hard, heavy work.

“One of the things we're practicing is three different ways to carry a 39-foot ground ladder,” he said. “People ask me all the time, 'Why does it take so many firemen to raise a ladder? Our ladders are rated to hold 750 pounds. The common ladder at a hardware store is rated to hold 250. That 39-foot ladder is a beast.”

He compared the training to that done by a football team.

“That's how you get good at what you do,” Erickson said. “What does Bill Belichick say? ‘Just do your job and do it well.’ Why do the Patriots practice all week long to throw a football when Tom Brady is the best quarterback on Earth? They don't want to make mistakes. And we have to practice the same way.”

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Firefighters from Laconia and Gilford train at the former McDurgin building on Union Avenue in Laconia on Friday. Lifting their 39-foot ground ladder and a 175-pound dummy are part of their training.  (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Rick Green
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Stolen items recovered by Belmont police


BELMONT — Police investigating a series of weekend thefts from unlocked motor vehicles have recovered some of the stolen property, and Lt. Richard Mann said they have interviewed three teen suspects and are investigating the possibility of a fourth accomplice.

Because of their ages, police have made no arrests, but Mann said they will be seeking juvenile petitions through the family court system to hold them accountable for criminal trespassing and receiving stolen property.

Those interviewed admitted their roles in dozens of thefts over the past month, including this past weekend when police received two dozen reports from residents of Province and Hoadley roads. The suspects surrendered electronics, a purse, and a handgun that had been stolen last month.

Mann asked that anyone whose car was damaged or ransacked over the weekend, and who has not reported it, to call the Belmont Police Department.

“It is important that we make sure all of the crime victims of these theft events are identified and damage to your property is logged for prosecution purposes,” said Mann.

Police also are seeking any video footage from home security systems if it shows any suspicious people in, on, or around the property between late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning. Call the department at 603-267-8350.


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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Children’s Auction off to a rousing start

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GILFORD — The Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction got underway to a great start Tuesday at the Belknap Mall, with a lot of activity on telephones and online, said auction chairwoman Sandra Marshall.

“The phones are ringing,” she said. “People are bidding online. The mall has been wonderful. I'm very pleased, everything seems to be falling into place.”

She said it's not too late to donate items for the auction.

“They are welcome to come over to the mall. We're right across from the Subway.”

The auction, now in its 36th year, is being televised from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., through Friday. On Saturday, it will be broadcast 9 a.m. to noon.

People can tune in on FM stations 104.9 and 101.5, or watch it on MetroCast cable television channels 12 and 25, or online at

More than $400,000 was raised and distributed last year.

The first distributions this year will occur on Dec. 15 to fill emergent needs for food, clothing and gifts for the holiday period.

As part of the charitable effort, Patrick's Pub & Eatery of Gilford will host its ninth Pub Mania event, a 24-hour barstool challenge, on Thursday and Friday.

Each of the 31 teams that make up Pub Mania has one or more captains that build a team of 24 people, one for each hour of the event. Participants raise funds throughout the year and bring their donations to the event.

The auction has grown to become a major source of funds for local charities and organizations across Central New Hampshire.

Local companies support the auction by providing cash donations, sponsorships and staff.

Donated items at the auction range from gift certificates to local businesses, sports collectibles, concert and sport tickets, autographed memorabilia, furniture, vacations, home decor, children's toys, electronics and holiday gifts.


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The studio of the Greater Lakes Region Childrens Auction at the Belknap Mall was buzzing with activity on opening day yesterday. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Greater Lakes Region Childrens Auction volunteer Jill Ober, seccond from right, explains the bid taking process to members of The Laconia Daily Sun staff prior to manning the phone bank on the opening day of the auction on Tuesday. From left are Crystal Furnee, Ginger Kozlowski, Elaine Hirshan, Ober, and Karin Nelson. (Alan MacRae for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Rick Green
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