GIF created using footage from Wayland Fire Department

 Each year, Goffstown Fire Chief Richard O’Brien and firefighters around the state find themselves responding to a cornucopia of cooking incidents. Oven fires, stovetop fires, not to mention the occasional turkey fryer that boiled over and quickly became engulfed in flames.

warriorwoman531 via Flickr Creative Commons


The director of New Hampshire Fire Standards and Training says bullying and a rigorous physical entrance exam are the principle reasons why only one percent of New Hampshire's 8,000 full-time firefighters are women.

Director Deb Pendergast tells the Portsmouth Herald that the agility test is given once a year for men and women. She said an average of 10 women take it and three of fewer pass.

She said the test is difficult for both genders, and an average of 40 percent fail it.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The old Lewis farmhouse on Lewis Hill Road in Bethlehem had been abandoned for decades and was so damaged it was beyond rehabilitation - so, the  new owner of the farmhouse and adjacent property decided the safest thing was to allow volunteer fire departments to burn it as a training exercise.

Click through the slideshow above to see photos by NHPR's Chris Jensen.

Good Gig: Fire Rappeller Jess Crump

Nov 10, 2014
Courtesy of Jess Crump and Siskiyou Rappellers

Good Gig is a series of conversations with individuals who have landed their dream job.

Jessica Crump is a fire rappeller, or officially, a wild land firefighter for the United States Forestry Service based out of Grants Pass, Oregon. Her job is to rappel into places that most of us would run from.

This is definitely not an easy gig, but Jess finds it incredibly rewarding and the perks, for her, make it a great gig.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Tighter budgets over the last few years have meant volunteer fire departments in the North Country have been cutting back on making the trip to Concord for training at a state facility. But that will change Friday with the opening of the first fire training facility north of the notches...

It’s something that North Country fire departments have dreamt of for decades, said Jack Anderson, the Bethlehem fire chief.

A new fire training facility in the North Country will be named after Executive Councilor Ray Burton, said Deborah A. Pendergast, the director of the state’s division of Fire Standards & Training and Emergency Medical Services.

The center, located in Bethlehem, will allow fire fighters from the North Country to learn fire fighting techniques without the cost and time involved in traveling to Concord.

“It gives the folks up in that area a facility that meets their needs,” she said in a telephone interview.

warriorwoman531 via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1975, Boston firefighters battled more than 400 blazes. Last year, there were only forty. That 90 percent drop reflects a nationwide victory in the crusade against fires, but even as America’s blazes burn out, the number of career firefighters per capita remains relatively unchanged.  

Leon Neyfakh is Ideas reporter for The Boston Globe.