Hill students learn life lessons through firefighting


Media: Cole Bilotta '23

Anthony McMullan ’23 enters the cabin of the Station 69A firetruck.

Throughout the span of a few weeks, as a part of Hill’s H-term internship program, I learned firsthand what first responders in our community do for a living. This winter, students at Hill were given the opportunity to partake in an out-of-school internship. This internship would fulfill students’ H-term requirements and would be a great way to learn something new. One of my fellow Hill students, Anthony McMullan ‘23, who serves his community at home as a volunteer firefighter, told me about the chance to learn what it takes to be a firefighter. 

I didn’t know what to expect going into my first day at the firehouse. McMullan described his experiences at his fire station at home as something he enjoyed doing. Naturally, I was excited to find out what this profession had to offer and what the next few weeks would have in store for me. 

On the first day, we went down to Good Will Fire Company (Station 69A), where we would be doing the majority of our work. We met the firefighters on duty and they were all down-to-earth, nice people. There was no shortage of work to be done the first day, however. 

After we met the firefighters, they gave us a tour of the station. As well as trained firefighters, the station also has trained EMTs and paramedics who work out of Good Will. I learned that there are not a lot of fire calls, so the majority of calls that come into the station are Emergency Medical Service calls. 

Throughout the next couple of weeks, I saw firsthand what EMS is about. I responded to a man who had a stroke, a woman who had a diabetic emergency, and another woman who took too much medication and needed to be sent to the hospital. 

Our first call was for a woman who was seeing things and was being delusional. McMullan said, “I felt sad seeing the effects of the medicine she was taking and how that was negatively affecting her mental state.”

The next call was an older man who got hit by a car just outside of the Walmart in Pottstown. He had severe head trauma, and they rushed him to the hospital. His head trauma was so bad that he couldn’t remember things that were being said to him 15 seconds prior.

In Pottstown, there are three different fire stations: Good Will, Philadelphia (Phillies), and North End. McMullan and I spent our time at Good Will, which is right across from Hill. We ended up getting tours of all three. 

All three stations were of different sizes and had various trucks and tools other stations did not have. Good Will is the biggest station in Pottstown because EMS runs out of the station and needs trained paramedics. 

The firefighters in all stations showed us different tools that they use on the trucks when they go to a fire. On most of the bigger trucks, there was every different size and shape axe you could think of. There were compartments surrounding every inch of the truck; if you had a need for a specific tool, it was on these trucks. 

The fire axe (Media: Cole Bilotta ’23)

When they are not fighting fires or helping out the community, I learned that they have a lot of downtimes where they have to find something to do. In Good Will, they have a gym where they can work out. They also have a break room with couches, a TV and a kitchen. 

When I asked multiple firefighters what the best part of their job was, they all had similar responses: helping others. McMullan told me, “The firefighters we got to work with at Station 69 were very down-to-earth. Sometimes firehouse culture will start with a form of hazing, but that was not the case. The 69 brothers are people I would want to work with the rest of my life.”